ARCADIA, Calif. — An Arcadia school is creating a space for students to talk about mental health as they learn from home.
The Arcadia High School Wellness Center provides mental health resources for students and their families. The center was planned to open pre-pandemic and counselors are finding it more vital than ever.
“If students are stressed and anxious, they are not going to be able to focus and access the curriculum,” said Dr. Deja Anderson, center director and school counselor. “I think it’s so important that this is something that is a part of schools’ cultures, that way we can also help reduce the stigma. So many students are scared to talk about mental health.”
Dr. Anderson says “stressed” and “anxious” are the two words most commonly used by students to describe how they are feeling while learning from home.
Sophomore Leslie Lopez said she feels increasing anxiety as she hears about rising COVID-19 cases.
“I’m scared about if you have to go to the hospital and you don’t make it out of there and what about the rest of your family and friends and everyone thinking about you?” Leslie said.
She’s had two family members hospitalized recently. She tries to focus on school as a distraction from the stress and anxiety, but it doesn’t always work. She’s turned to the Wellness Center for help. At any time she can find ways to cope through the stress of the pandemic and school. She also books appointments to talk with Dr. Anderson.
Leslie has learned quick ways to help lessen her anxiety including a five-finger breathing technique. It helps, and so does knowing her family members are doing OK.
“My cousin is coming back today, and my aunt she is well she is able to text and everything so that’s good,” Leslie said.
She’ll keep her hand raised in order to keep her stress down.