With the escalating academic pressure in schools nationwide, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) is making efforts to address and remedy the mental health issue.
Two SRVUSD high school campuses will install a wellness center next school year, and the remaining two will open during the 2021-2022 school year. Although the school selections have not yet been decided, district staff members are visiting campuses throughout the spring semester to determine availability. SRVUSD social worker Lacy Canton began working on the project after noticing an influx of teens experiencing various forms of mental health through the healthy kids survey.
“The number of young students who are going through anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental illnesses concerned us in the district,” Canton said. “That’s when we decided to start conversations about building wellness centers in schools as a powerful resource for students.”
Monte Vista does not currently have space available, but it will likely repurpose two or three classrooms to make it possible.
“We want to create a welcoming space for any student struggling in school or family life, so a practical, interactive, and open classroom is crucial for us,” Canton said.
The student community attests to the importance of a welcoming space as opening up about mental health can be a complicated and difficult process.
“The wellness centers will help students who are afraid to talk about mental health at home because students have the support of trained counselors who can empathize with their emotions,” junior Sydney Brandeis said. “In doing so, students can feel heard and perform stronger in class.
With an undisclosed amount of funding from a state grant, SRVUSD aims to hire about 10 staff members to run the centers throughout the school day and after school to establish long-term relationships with students. Whereas school counselors have a limited amount of time to meet with students and spend time on other tasks, the wellness centers will be available anytime. The newly hired mentors will set a restricted number of times students can visit the centers during the school day to ensure that they do not regularly miss class.
“We know that every student’s situation is different and may not have an ideal family to share their struggles,” Canton said. “This is why we are here with open ears and hearts to listen and help them with our specialized resources.”
The plan is to have a room with a meditation area, stress balls, crafting stations and space to speak with the counselors. Students believe the new project will benefit the overall school climate.
“For too long, student stress and anxiety has been swept under the rug,” Brandeis said. “Giving students an outlet to express what they are feeling and have a safe space is truly acknowledging the root problem and need for a solution.”
As SRVUSD continues working on the project, it will launch a student and educator advisory board to gather input and step into a direction of progress for the mental health community.