Wellness committee works to improve mental health

Freshmen+Margaret+Neely+and+Katie+Pollack+are+student+volunteers+on+the+committee.+They+hang+up+vinyl+signs+with+positive+affirmations.

photo by Erin Pollack

Freshmen Margaret Neely and Katie Pollack are student volunteers on the committee. They hang up vinyl signs with positive affirmations.

All across campus, with little help from their community, students have been fighting internal battles dealing with stress, sadness, and anxiety. The Wellness committee, established in September 2019 under the PTSA, is looking to change this. The wellness committee is made up of student and parent volunteers seeking to aid students in their mental health struggles. They are focused on raising student self esteem, providing information about mental health to parents and students, and donating money to projects that work on improving student mental health. Parent volunteer Erin Pollack is in charge of the committee, and she is passionate about caring for student’s mental wellbeing. With awareness of student mental health problems rising sharply over the past years, the committee was initiated as a response to complaints towards the lack of care schools provide to their students’ emotional health. 

“Our goal is to reach as many students as we can,” Pollack said. “[The] more students know we are out there for them, the bigger impact we can make.” 

The committee’s recruitment of student volunteers, starting in October, has added a unique perspective to the committee’s projects. Students can earn volunteer hours by planning, setting up and participating in projects, as well as earn leadership experience and learn more about taking care of their and others’ mental health. 

“As a student, I can give ideas and activities that other kids like to do so it feels like kids can be themselves without an adult forcing their ways on them,” sophomore Samantha Mullings said. 

In the past, the committee launched a variety of  projects surrounding student mental health. They have placed notes, including yard signs in the parking lots and post-it-notes on all the lockers,  reminding students of their worth, even as a passing notion. The committee put together  a mental health seminar February of 2019 in which parents and students could hear from on-campus mental health professionals about methods to help mental health, how to detect mental health problems, and resources for if there was a problem with a student. 

“The wellness committee is essentially trying to boost student positivity, and I feel that it is succeeding in that,” junior Rylee Moss said.

Currently, the committee is putting up vinyl signs with positive affirmations on the walls of the school bathrooms such as “believe in yourself”. Students walking past the bathrooms are able to read them as they walk to class. Along with this, they are also designing and putting together a wellness room, a place where students can meet with the mental health counselor Cassandra Palmer and discuss their own mental health in a private and comforting area. 

“Now with the whole pandemic and our whole lives being different it can be tough to handle everything that’s going on,” freshman Kaleb Heyliger said, “It is our job to help students learn how to handle it.”

In the future, the Wellness committee hopes to gain new members and more recognition, offering wider access to the mental health resources. 

“I am hoping in a few years the Wellness committee will be a known source for help at the school for any wellness issues,” Pollack said, “ I also hope the students in the committee will play a huge leadership role in advocating for each other.”

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