Mental health and wellness week raises awareness


Caitlin McKeand, Co-Editor in Chief

This week, in place of Mental health Awareness Week, Vandegrift will host Mental Health and Wellness Week based off the results from the Stanford Survey taken last year to gauge various aspects such as stress, sleep and finding balance in students lives.

“This is our fourth mental health week,” lead counselor Amy Rodriguez said. “I decided to do the survey as a way to release the results in chunks, so it was a little bit more digestible. I tried to figure out the best way to do that and my thought was why not put it into a week of themes that really stuck out, slowly releasing the information that way instead of giving people a powerpoint so it’s more tangible and breathable.”

The information will also be read in small portions over the morning announcements and is chunked into different days. Monday is “Tune Out Stress,” Tuesday is “Power Off,” Wednesday is “Highlighting Your Priorities,” Thursday is “The Importance of Sleep,” and Friday is “Finding Balance.”

“I hope the students realize that we need to have conversations about what steps we can take and how to prioritize things,” Rodriguez said. “It’s very individual. It’s not like a whole school can say to do things one certain way. That’s not realistic.”

During lunches, students can head outside to participate in some destressing activities such as hula hooping, kicking beach balls and writing anonymous notes to teachers and the school.

“You can write anonymous notes to drop in a box and it’s what I wish my teacher knew, what I wish my parents knew and things like that,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not supposed to be a negative thing, but it’s supposed to be something more like a ‘hey, I wish they knew I try or I wish they knew I’m struggling.’ I was going to type them up and send them out in an email to those specific groups [parents, teachers, administration].”

There is also a new club added this year that is also based on the survey called the VHS Student Breakroom.

“The whole concept behind it is to try to have a space for students to just take a breath and unwind and destress,” Rodriguez said. “Every Friday in the small lecture hall in 1303, they will have a room for you to do some of the stress relief activities like coloring, bubbles and hanging out with peers to take a break.”

Rodriguez said she really just wants to start conversations.

“I think it’s important to talk about how we need to take a breath and ask ourselves if we’re enjoying life or if we’re just going through the options,” Rodriguez said. “We only have one life to live and hopefully we live it well.”

Freshman Ella Ruby said she was looking forward to this week.

“I think this week will be cool,” Ruby said. “The music is fun when you’re walking to class and I felt like this morning was less stressful when the music came on.”

Ruby said the results of the survey made her upset, thinking about how stressed out everyone is.

“I hope the school recognizes mental health even more, so more kids can have a better environment,” Ruby said. “I also hope stress levels for students goes down over time.”

Freshman Jackson Trevino also hopes this week will help students.

“I know, for me, the results of the announcement held true for me and my friends,” Trevino said. “We’re always pretty stressed about how we’re going to finish our school work. I hope that we have less busy work, but not lose the critical skills we need to master these topics. Instead, finding other ways to teach it that involves less time outside of school because we have other things on our plates.”