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Staff ready to aid Bruins with mental illness

School Psychologist Vicky Stanton says that Bear River students have an abundance of programs available to help them with their struggles. Photo by McKenna Hisaw

Here at Bear River High School, there are certain diseases that students don’t really comprehend. Mental issues such as anxiety, depression and even bipolar disorder (manic depression) hinder the lives of everyday students.

Bear River’s School Psychologist Vicky Stanton believes that the first step in helping these students is for them to address the issue by asking for help.

¨We need to know that students are struggling with these issues,” Stanton said. “This is hard for us sometimes because often times we find out that students want to deal with this kind of thing themselves. If a student does have anxiety or depression, a student wants to talk to their friends about it first. We hope that the teachers will talk to the counselors, then bring them in to get help.¨

Junior Jack Kendall agreed with Mrs. Stanton’s views on teens asking peers for help before teachers or adults.

¨If you are around your friends that generally affects your health in a positive way because you are around people that are helping you, hopefully,¨ said Kendall.  

There are a lot of reasons for stress, anxiety, and depression. Junior Layla Ray thinks that stretching yourself too far out with responsibilities have a huge, damaging effect to students mental state.

¨Extracurricular activities, like putting yourself in the position of making yourself do multiple things at once. Starlight, the play, sports, so many things can put you in a bad mood,¨said Ray. ¨Because there’s so many things that someone can do at this school, there’s the play, there’s drama, there’s starlight, there’s dance, there’s photography, there’s so many things that you can put yourself through, but on top of that you have your social life, if you’re old enough you can go to work, but then you also have your extracurricular activities, but then you also have schoolwork, and so it’s like building up and building up and it’s not a fun time.¨

Leo Jackson, a sophomore, recognized having health problem at Bear River, really damaged his relationships at a young age.

“I’ve been depressed since like fifth grade, not a good thing I know, but that’s like losing all of my friends because of moving, so I guess that’s a thing that school didn’t help, moving schools didn’t help my depression,”said Jackson.

Jackson also considered that through the years, being taught about being like a college student can be another stress factor that can cause her to have more anxiety.

¨There are some teachers who really did not help me, who stressed me out with work, who taught us as if we were in college even though it was a freshman class,” she said. “I’ve had teachers before in the past who, literally in seventh or eighth grade, taught us like we were college kids and it just stressed us out, knowing that they’re stressing us out, like this is the real world, you need to deal with it, but we’re kids

Mental illnesses can have a poor effect on your life. Kendall explained that having anxiety can really wound the grading process here at school. 

“Schoolwork, like teachers. They bring a lot of stress,¨ said Kendall. “They have 504’s that can help you, but oftentimes those don’t get approved, or nobody knows where to go to get them, so with anxiety you’re pretty much forced to stay with your classroom, and even if you have anxiety you can’t step out, you can’t really take days off for that or you miss a ton of work and it stresses you out and gives you panic attacks.¨

According to the California Department of Education, a 504 is a document that details the services and accommodations provided to students with disabilities of any kind.

There are ways to help these students. Mrs. Stanton wants students that struggle with mental illness to use very helpful tips that the counselors and other teachers at Bear River suggest.

¨If a student has test anxiety, I have a few things that I try out. If I’m called in, I talk to them about ways to handle anxiety and depression and one of the things that I really like to help students is by being aware of what is going on at the moment,” said Mrs. Stanton. “Sometimes anxiety and depression can overwhelm you to such an extent that you can’t think straight or clear. I give them some suggestions about how to help them be able to step aside for a little bit, so I to have them make a list of things that are good in their life and then can pull that list out.¨

Jackson believes that being social with peers will help the difficulties of mental illness.

¨Socialization is a definite thing that school helps with. It can help you get connected to people, it can help you form relationships,¨said Jackson. “That way, you don’t go into the real world and are like ‘I don’t know how to do this! What’s a friend?’ I don’t know, I was never taught that. That’s the one good thing about school, no offense to school.¨

Ray is a huge advocate for the RY program at Bear River. RY is the Reconnecting Youth program. It’s sole purpose is to help students that struggle with mental health or even struggle with a hard home life.

¨Last year they were actually going to cancel RY, but we brought it back. Gage Young, Mr. Bussinger and I, we went to the school board and put up a fight because they were going to eliminate it from both NU and Bear River,¨ said Ray. ¨They eliminated it from NU instead of Bear River. What I want them to do is have a bigger RY classroom. Or, not a bigger classroom, but more classes for RY.”

Bear Rivers principle, Dr. Amy Besler, hopes that having certain programs will help students be more open to getting help.

¨Breaking Down the Walls is another awesome way we support students and their well-being here at Bear River,¨said Dr. Besler. ¨Peers can have a huge impact on mental health, for the positive or the negative. Just a kind word in passing can make a huge difference to someone who is struggling. As we learn through the Breaking Down the Walls program, every person has a story.¨

Stanton wants these programs at school to gain more attention and for students to know that there are resources at school to help.

¨The school offers resources at various levels to support students with mental health challenges, namely their counselors, myself, the ‘STARS’ program, and the ‘What’s Up Wellness’ program,¨said Mrs. Stanton. “Programs such as Breaking Down the Walls are also offered, and students learn about how to seek help in their health classes as freshmen.¨


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Staff ready to aid Bruins with mental illness