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Mental Health: first check in

A Bear River student’s interpretation of the mind and mental health. Art by Jude Slater

The mental health of Bear River students is incredibly important to staff members and students. Improvements and progress can be made with our available resources. 

The definition of mental health is the state of one’s psychological and emotional well-being. Whether we acknowledge it or not, everyone has a mental health state, and they are all different. Good mental health can be a difficult battle, and due to the state of the world and the stresses of school, many students have felt that weight. It can be extremely hard to cope and get through, but knowing you are not alone is the first step. 

Julianne Henry is the Students Assistance Program Coordinator, a licensed psychotherapist, and she provides direct therapy and resources for students. She’s also one of our district therapists. 

“Right now we have one other therapist, and that is Liz Smith, she is a licensed marriage and family therapist and she sees students at Nevada Union and Northpoint Academy,” Henry said. “I see students at Bear River, Silver Springs, and Ghidotti. However, we are looking to hire more therapists and have therapists on campus more days per week.. 

Getting in contact with Mrs. Henry is easy, and can absolutely be beneficial to anyone who may be struggling. 

“Stop in with your counselor, see Mrs. Wachs – Worden or Mrs. Bussey, and let them know you want to see a STARS therapist,” Henry said.

It may take a lot for someone to want to reach out for help. However, if you feel someone is in danger based on warning signs, you may be able to help. Henry pointed out some common warning signs. 

“If you notice any kinds of changes or if you notice some irritability, some sadness, and symptoms of anxiety. Anybody who seems to be struggling,” Henry said. “Reach out, let them know that you care, and let them know you are available if they need it.”

English teacher Toby Barmeyer says she can notice in the classroom when a student may be going through some mental challenges. 

“Students’ mental health is visible in the classroom through behavior, actions, and their focus or lack thereof in their work,” she said. “Teachers get to see students almost daily and so are able to notice when a student isn’t themself. When something seems ‘off’ about a student, the teacher notices.” 

Sometimes, being a good friend to someone helps someone just as much as professional help. In the situation of helping fellow students cope, Mrs. Henry gave suggestions. 

“By being a supportive friend, and being willing to listen, you know, ask a question and sit back and wait,” she said. “Just make it a safe space for them, and let them know that they are able to talk without judgment.”

Ms. Barmeyer agrees and adds, “I think learning about mental health and trying to understand it, also is a way to be able to connect with those who struggle from anxiety and depression.”

COVID-19 has been a significant damper in the well-being of people of all ages. Mental health problems have spiked since the pandemic began. 

“Since the pandemic, I don’t even know how to describe how much it has increased. Probably fourfold,” Henry says. 

Barmeyer agreed.

“There definitely has been an increase in mental health issues since COVID-19 and since the start of my career. More and more students are stressed out, anxious, and depressed during this confusing and unique time. This COVID-19 era and its issues are something no one has ever experienced before. It can be scary to face the things we all face on a daily basis, but knowing there are people who love you and are willing to help, I think makes it less frightening. Everyone needs to help each other get through this tough time through having sympathy and empathy for others.”

As a bystander or someone seeking mental health help, the school district has highlighted many helpful and informative resources. 

“Another resource is on our district website (, there is a Wellness Guide. It has a virtual calming room, it has all kinds of mental health resources and hotlines,” Henry said. “There is a lot of really great stuff, some fun webcams to look at that are really calming, and just some tips for taking care of yourself.”

The Nevada Joint Union High School District Wellness Guide falls under the counseling tab. This website provides information about mental health, outreach programs, different tools for people who are struggling, and many links to helpful websites. Included in the wellness guide is “Know the Signs”, a suicide prevention program used to help students recognize changes in their peers. 

A freshman girl shared her challenges and experiences through her own mental health. 

“It used to be really bad, to the point where I couldn’t control it that well, but I’m definitely getting better at that.”

This student has suggested that developing a hobby, and finding activities that help you cope can make the weight of troubling thoughts feel much lighter. 

“It makes it easier for me to find something to help me cope with it. For example, playing basketball.”

She said that she has experienced anxiety since 6th grade, and she shared some of her obstacles. 

“If I’m overwhelmed at school sometimes it brings me down.”

Stress from schoolwork can be extremely overwhelming. However, being mindful and following wellness tips can be a step in the right direction. Many fellow students with similar problems may also be great people to ask for advice and guidance.  

“I want to be able to help people because I have been in their shoes. It means a lot to me,” she says. 

It can be extremely hard to cope with and get through, but knowing you are not alone is the first step. So many other people face challenges, and can relate to others. 

“I most definitely want people to feel they are not alone,” she commented. 

She said that since she has been through similar struggles, she hopes that she can help others through experience. 

Mental health can be a scary experience with bumpy waters to navigate. With the available resources from the district, the supportive community, and being a good human, we can provide help to those struggling or in need.  

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Mental Health: first check in