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Counseling Helps Students Handle Mental Health Challenges
March 10, 2023
With all the tragedies that have taken place this school year, whether it be the on-campus drug overdoses, the increasing number of fights, national incidents and wars, soaring rates of anxiety and depression, or even tough family lives outside of FCHS, many students have had a lot to process.
In addition to trying to maintain good grades and keep friendships and relationships healthy, students may overlook their own mental health. As a result, FCHS has been sharing a variety of sources students can reach out to if they need assistance or a listening ear.
First and foremost, students should realize that the FCHS Counseling Department is ready to help.
“While this is my first year as a counselor, and I cannot speak personally to it being an increase from years past, it is true that these topics have been on the rise for teenagers across the county and right here in Fluvanna,” said counselor and FCHS graduate Haden Parrish. “Mental health support is the top priority for school counselors and any students that have questions about mental health or need a space to talk should reach out to their counselor,” he said.
Parrish noted that mental health has so many different layers. “Struggles with mental health have always been a part of the human condition. Our brains are capable of some pretty amazing things and are responsible for all the positive emotions we feel, but there is a trade-off that sometimes our brains are not as kind to us as we deserve. Sometimes, struggles with mental health make it difficult to remember that we are just as capable of experiencing good mental health, but we all need to prioritize caring for ourselves, remind ourselves that we can heal from hard times, and establish sustainable habits to promote positive mental health,” Parrish added.
He noted that COVID-19 elevated the types of stress and anxiety that has led to people needing extra support.
“During the peak of the pandemic, we needed to stay home to take care of our physical health, but due to such a sudden shift in our daily routines and interactions, our brains were a little more vulnerable to negative mental health. It is such a positive thing that students, staff, and faculty are back in the school together, but that transition has required some re-learning of social skills, motivation, and independence. Everyone has experienced COVID-19 differently, but all of us had our mental health affected by the global trauma,” he said.
After the loss of an FCHS student several weeks ago, there are many who are struggling with grief. “Following the loss of a school community member earlier this semester we partnered with local counseling agencies to make sure students had increased access to grief counseling. Though those additional counselors are not still providing grief counseling in the building, the school counselors are available to support students who are experiencing grief, and we can help students find grief counselors in the community, if desired,” Parrish said.
School counselors can help students with anything from scheduling classes, to talking about mental health. Students should not feel like they are the only ones suffering from mental health issues.
“Everyone experiences anxiety–it’s how we survive–but it is common for students to feel overwhelmed by their anxiety and need support in processing their thoughts,” Parrish said. “Similarly, it is common for students to experience feelings of depression, which may last for a longer amount of time or for only a few days, and need a space to strategize about what they need to do to persist through their depression. Many students are in the process of working out difficult social situations and need a space to talk it through,” he said.
Parrish added, “Your school counselors are here to support your mental health. Student mental health is the most important aspect of our job and what we spend most of the school day working on with students. Whether a student is in a mental health crisis or just a little concerned about how they’ve been feeling lately, the Counseling Department wants to support you and partner with you to work towards stronger mental health,” he said.
If you don’t know who your counselor is, review this list of counselors:
Haden Parrish – Students’ whose last name starts with A-Cra
Erika Morris – Students’ whose last name starts with Cre-Hel
Kelly Fallavollita – Students’ whose last name starts with Hem-McG
Chris Roberson – Students’ whose last name starts with McK-Shep
Maureen Stonesifer – Students’ whose last name starts with Sher- Z