Teenagers are facing a variety of stressors in their day to day lives, ranging from school to home life. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 20% of teenage girls and 7% of teenage boys have experienced a major depressive episode in their lives. And the number of teens combating less severe, everyday stressors is much higher.
Leigh High School’s Wellness Center aims to support students through their times of emotional distress and uncertainty. The concept was first proposed in principal Kara Butlers’ wish list for the Home and School Club. According to the center’s website, she believes prioritizing “student mental health projects” would be an invaluable contribution to the school community.
Although distance learning interrupted their plans initially, the newly established Mental Health and Wellness Committee opened in January of 2022. The center has since offered a variety of services, including 15-minute drop-in breaks for students, yoga classes, and movies.
At the moment, the Wellness Center has only been open for a few months. Despite its slow start, assistant principal Laurel Garceau and overseer Carolina Mora Barney realize that it is “increasingly being used by students.” In efforts to expand their reach, they are hoping to offer courses surrounding a variety of mental health topics in efforts to “de-stigmatize the term ‘mental health.’”
Symptoms of depression differ for every student and include, but are not limited to hopelessness, a lack of motivation, obsession with death, and lack of energy. Depression is not always evident either. Even the most optimistic student may be masking their painful internal emotions. Thus, Garceau and Barney stressed the importance of “[taking] care of ourselves physically, emotionally, and mentally in order to have a healthy, balanced life.” and on top of school, work, and extracurriculars, many students find this difficult. Many universities have already established Wellness Centers, aiming to support students through their ups and downs.
The Leigh Wellness Center is open from 7:45 am to 12:15 pm, with a closure between 11 and 12. If you are feeling anxious and need a moment to de-stress, you can check out with your teacher and take a 15-minute break in the center. This is a no cell phone zone and is not a place to hang out with friends or skip class. However, for those students who are looking for a quick break, the Wellness Center is the perfect place to do so.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a major depressive episodes, suicidal thoughts, or any other crisis, you may want to consider contacting one of the following free, 24/7 hotlines:
National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741742
Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Text Line: 1-855-278-4204
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233