What the school can do differently

May 1, 2021

Today’s society can be a cruel and painful place, leaving damaging impacts on so many people’s mental health. It is important to know, however, that nobody is alone — ever. If you look around you, there are people who will be there to support you, even if you cannot believe it yourself. It is true that you may be lonely, but alone, you will never be.

At Cherry Hill East, there are certainly resources offered to students, though many people are not aware of these resources. Most of these resources can be found on the Cherry Hill East’s guidance website which includes hotlines, student outreach networks, counseling recommendations, and more . Though these resources can of course, be a help to many students, in the future, there are so many opportunities for the East community to reach out to their students in a more direct way.

For example, teachers are the adults whom the students often see the most, and want to trust the most, but in many instances, students do not feel that they can open up with their teachers. As teenage students, the pressures of academics, social interactions, and many other instances can cause feelings of excessive worry and sadness. When one wants to reach out to a teacher, sometimes a student may feel as if the teacher will view them as a complainer. They may feel as if the teacher will not understand, and will not want to help with whatever the student may be struggling with. This problem however, can easily be resolved. Check-In’s, a google form where teachers can reach out to their students and assess their feelings, has proven to be an effective way for teachers to not only build relationships with their students, but to also connect with students and be a direct line of communication enabling students to feel comfortable sharing their struggles with their teachers.

Asking for help still seems to be a difficult task for people of all ages to do, especially teenage students who are already struggling with finding who they are, and trying to find their crowd in a high school, that seems more like a bustling city. Unfortunately, as difficult as it may be, it will also often require the administrators, teachers, and staff to reach out to students, because chances are, the students will not feel comfortable doing it on their own, and these Check-In’s can be a fast and efficient way for teachers to gage how their students are doing.

Certainly, even with Cherry Hill East staff reaching out to students, some will still feel as if they can not ask for help and open up to the school, which is understandable in the pressure induced environment. This is where the school resources must prove to be effective, however. Making daily announcements and directing teachers to share the resources with their students will hopefully lead the students down the right path. The guidance website, as previously pointed out, is not a resource most students are aware of, and must be publicized more frequently, and in places where all students in every corner of Cherry Hill East, can find.

Additionally, when in school, the guidance office has pamphlets that sit on a rack, visible to everyone when they walk in. While this may seem to be a great thing for students, it also proves to be inefficient. Those who are struggling and who can not open up to teachers, will most likely not feel comfortable taking a pamphlet in front of everyone sitting in the lobby of the guidance office. These pamphlets however, can be an amazing resource for students, so there must be a solution found to actually get these pamphlets into students hands, and there is. By putting these pamphlets in the guidance counselors’ individual offices, students will feel more inclined to take a pamphlet because as opposed to their peers watching them, there will only be one adult watching them, who is there to offer help.

It cannot be ignored however, that the guidance department and the Cherry Hill East school is already taking steps to reach out to their students in providing Behavioral Screening (Behavioral Health Works). This initiative was put on hold last year due to the outbreak of COVID-19, but it is finally being reintroduced for the students at Cherry Hill East, and is a promising way for students to evaluate their mental health and all results are kept private from student’s teachers.

Mental health is affecting students in profound ways that many could have never predicted, but it is happening, and as a community, it is important that we all are there to support those struggling. It is mental health awareness month — a month focused on recognizing those who struggle with mental illnesses everyday and their mental health everyday. It is a month where communities, nations, and the world must come together to understand that mental health is just as important as physical health, and those struggling are deserving of care, acceptance, and understanding. Please take the time this month to acknowledge those who are fighting for their mental health.

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