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Mental Health Awareness At South

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As a new school year begins with cool September weather and the thrill of upcoming holidays, a silent danger lurks within South’s walls. Though never seen, it is more prevalent than ever among the student body and has only been thoroughly exposed in the last few years.

This danger is mental illness.

“Unfortunately, there’s a stigma related to mental health issues,” Mr. Bucher, South’s new principal, said, “not only in the school, but in society.” Whether it be depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or one of many other diagnoses, mental illness has been looked upon as a kind of taboo, which leads to many students not receiving the help they need.

In a recent study by the National Institute of Mental Health, it’s estimated that one in five children ages thirteen to eighteen have, or will have a serious mental illness, a statistic directly affecting students in secondary schools such as South. Some students might have to stay home from school, apply to special educational programs, or even seek professional help because of the debilitating effects of mental illness.

CB South is determined to fight this invisible threat.

In an effort to combat the silent suffering of students with mental illness, the school has created special programs. These are programs “the students aren’t even aware of,” Mr. Hill, a senior guidance counselor said.

One such program is SAP, or the Student Assistance Program.  

This program uses an anonymous referral system that anyone can fill out, whether it be out of worry for another or for self-help. Once the referral is received, the SAP team – which includes teachers, administration and guidance counselors — works behind the scenes to get resources and help for the at-risk student.

“What this Student Assistant Program does is it allows us to collect data from teachers in school, but it also allows us to tap into outside resources to help the student,” Mr. Bucher said.

According to Mr. Hill, there could be “up to one hundred referrals in a given school year”. These anonymous tips have allowed hundreds of students to gain the help they need through resources such as Lenape Valley Foundation and the Suicide and Crisis Intervention Service.

Other programs include Mid-Week Mindfulness, a Wednesday-morning group that tackles stress and anxiety, the Healthy Living Club, the POPS (Power of Positive Students) club, and anxiety and bereavement groups. There are even electives that help students learn to deal with stress and anxiety, such as Stress Management.

While these programs are beneficial to those who use them, many students at South don’t know of their existence. SAP is the largest program at South pertaining to mental illness, yet when multiple students were asked about it, they simply said they “had no idea what it was”.

“There should be certain times in class where an hour or two are spent educating students on mental illness,” one anonymous student said, “There just isn’t enough emphasis on the importance of mental health.”

Mr. Bucher agreed. “The challenge is we haven’t done a good enough job of getting it out there,” he said. “Students, teachers, parents aren’t actually aware that this program exists.”

To get the word out, a few changes have been made.

One such change is the new hotline backing of the student ID’s. ID’s now have service numbers on their backs in an effort to give more reserved students the ability to find help on their own; numbers include the National Suicide Hotline, the Network of Victim’s Assistance, the Bucks County Children’s Crisis, and The Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Drug and Alcohol Abuse).

“These numbers are always available to students,” Mr. Hill said, since they are kept on or near the students for most of the school year.

In addition, there is the Parent Positive Series, a series of sessions that have partnerships with CB Cares, the YMCA, and the Doylestown Hospital. These evening sessions focus on “different issues that a child might be experiencing”, such as depression or school-related stress, Mr. Bucher said.

Speakers are brought in to speak at these meetings and give professional advice and information to students and their parents. For those who are interested, the upcoming Parent Positive session is set at Lenape Middle School on Thursday, October 6th and will be having Christa Tinari, an esteemed author and educator, as a guest speaker. Events such as these are helping spread mental health awareness throughout the district.

With all these new programs, a simple guidance visit is still extremely helpful and recommended to those who seek help. Counselors are trained to help those suffering from mental health issues find resources and be mediators between students and teachers.

“Students can have confidential conversations… excluding those few things, whether they are endangering themselves or someone else, or participating in some unhealthy activities, they can come in here and have that privacy and confidentiality,” Mr. Hill said.

Mental illness is a serious issue that has severely affected many students and their ability to gain education. Although this silent menace exists within South, the school’s community is fighting back and creating a welcoming, safe environment for those in need.

Hotlines:

The Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania (Drug and Alcohol Abuse):  1-800-221-6333

Bucks County Children’s Crisis: 1-877-HELP-709

Network of Victim’s Assistance: 1-800-675-6900

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Trevor Project (LGBTQ): 1-866-488-7386

Senior Counselors:

Mr. Hill: thill@cbsd.org

Mrs. McGroggan: mmcgroggan@cbsd.org

Junior Counselors:

Mrs. Barrett: tbarrett@cbsd.org

Mrs. Ladley: lladley@cbsd.org

Sophomore Counselors:

Mrs. Monk: kmonk@cbsd.org

Mrs. Barrett: vbarrett@cbsd.org

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The online student newspaper of Central Bucks High School South
Mental Health Awareness At South