Wellness Center strives to support students on personal situations and stress

SCHS Wellness Coordinator, Michelle Sandoval, was recently relocated from the front office to the J portables where the new Wellness Center opened.

The Wellness Center is there for students to come in and talk about their personal situations and stress, Sandoval said. Along with students, staff and family members are welcome to receive support and resources.

“I like to think of it as a calming retreat for everyone,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval is joined by Dupe Thomas, a community health outreach worker, therapists Michael Ridgeway and Tess Florez, and interns from the Bill Wilson Center – an agency that helps with mental illnesses.

According to Sandoval, the Wellness Center is open for drop-ins anytime during the school day. Teachers can also refer students. So far this year, the center has received students every day.

“It has helped the students a lot, offering them support that they need in order to thrive,” Sandoval said.

Ben Gonzales, SCUSD’s District Health and Wellness Coordinator, had the idea for the Wellness Center after he learned other districts have schools with wellness centers. All SCUSD schools had Wellness Coordinators, but the district planned to open centers at each site this year, according to Sandoval. The district was able to implement wellness centers at SCHS and Wilcox.

“I’m glad this became a reality, because students will feel more safe and allowed to talk about their issues, creating a more open environment and allowing our school to grow and support each other,” sophomore Katie Smith said.

According to Sandoval, the Wellness Center has a goal of making people more accepting of mental illnesses in order to help reduce the effects of mental illnesses by garnering understanding and support.

“One out of five people experience mental illness in their lives,” Sandoval said. “With those statistics, we should normalize mental health and give students open arms.”

To continue with their goal and help give students an even bigger outlet, the Wellness Center staff started a Wellness Warrior Club.

Many students are excited for the wellness center and what it has to offer. Freshmen Trishaa Joshua feels safe knowing there is a lot of help and support on campus.

“I think the Wellness Center is needed at a high school because it’s great to know that if you’re feeling down, you always have someplace to go where you can take a breath and clear your mind,” Joshua said. “Most schools don’t have that and that’s why a lot of students struggle maintaining their mental health.”