By Shrida Pandey, Online News Editor
// With depression and anxiety heightened during the pandemic, mental health awareness is important now more than ever. Acalanes High School teachers and administration found new ways to discuss mental health during distance learning in honor of September being National Suicide Prevention Month.
The Acalanes Wellness Center team coordinated with Academy cohort teachers to educate students on mental health and suicide prevention on Monday.
The Wellness Center created a slideshow presentation with the intent of engaging students in a personal and informative discussion about mental health.
“I think when we talk about suicide awareness, it is really important to talk about some of the facts, know how to do things, and know that there are resources. That is absolutely important. I also think that it is really important for people to know that they are not alone,” Wellness Center Coordinator Allen Choi said.
Cohort teachers also showed students a prerecorded video encouraged them to download mental health apps, check in with friends, and save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on their phone. Students also learned about the warning signs of suicidal thoughts and behavior.
“I think the lessons were a great way for us to get informed about signs of suicide and raising way more awareness about it, especially for people in high school,” junior Meghan Foster said.
During the presentation, the Wellness Center encouraged students to report anonymous tips if they believe that someone needs help.
“I think the reporting system is a good attempt by Wellness to normalize and help those who are in trouble mentally. I think it puts a lot of responsibility on high school students on top of everything else already going on,” senior Kylie Alfaro said.
Many students appreciated the effort the Wellness team put in to educate students but acknowledged that it was a hard topic to discuss.
“The mental health cohort had a lot of good information in it, and we are really lucky to have a Wellness team that reaches out like this, but at the same time it was pretty heavy to sit through,” senior Madison Payne said.
Other students felt that the lesson could have gone more in-depth about the subject.
“I felt the conversation and extent of the presentation in the cohort was lacking meaning. It was short and only had one slide on how to get help. I feel like they could have made it more meaningful and helpful,” junior Stella Bobrowsky said.
Similarly, some students wanted additional discussions about other aspects of mental health.
“I think it would have been great if we could have had more discussions about things like anxiety and depression as well because it is important for people to also have that education,” junior Caroline Crossland said.
Ultimately, the Wellness Center hopes to destigmatize and continue the conversation about mental health.
“Suicide and mental health is typically not something that a lot of people are open to talking about. Our goal is to support mental health, and one of the key things to do is to destigmatize it,” Choi said.