Mental Health Resources Support Students at GCHS

Staff give insight into mental health resources provided at GCHS.


Calen Benson

A motivational bulletin board that says “Deep breath and relax you got this” located in the counseling hallway.

Calen Benson, Staff Reporter

In recent years the term mental health has been brought up frequently throughout our lives, but what is mental health? According to the World Health Organization, mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Here at Grayslake Central, mental health has been a high priority of the school culture. One of the school’s goals is to make sure that there are resources and support for all students; so what are these resources?

Wellness and Prevention coordinator Kate Oldenburg has had a large part in coordinating mental health resources and programming. One of her big projects was getting a dedicated Prevention and Wellness office located in Room 1355. Inside the office there are a variety of comfy chairs intended for wellness programs that go on throughout the school day. In the office there are various activities and calm lighting to help accommodate students who come in for wellness groups and other services. When asked about wellness groups, Oldenburg described them as “student-based support groups that are completely confidential, and accommodate for many different needs of the students. At the beginning of the year, a survey was sent out asking students their interest in the groups, through which a list was formed of students who would attend. Some school counselors run groups as well. These groups will try to rotate schedules, so students aren’t missing the same classes.” One of Oldenburg’s other wellness projects was Mindful Mondays. “Mindful Mondays are a drop-in group that is offered to any GCHS student or staff member that would like to start off their week with a mindfulness activity. These sessions are a short, simple way to reduce stress and learn new skills as we start off each week. All are welcome!”

Associate Principal of Student Services Michael Przybylski explained the variety of services that are provided here at GCHS. “Our [Student Services] Department provides services to students such as support groups (single and groups), social work minutes through our psychologists and social workers, and individual counseling sessions by our school counselors and deans. Ms. Oldenburg provides other services that deal with mental health through our Prevention & Wellness program.” One of the school’s projects to help support student’s overall mental health is Wellness Day. Wellness Day is an event that happens when the school follows a late start schedule, however students are still required to be at the school at 8:15. From 8:15 through 9:15, students can do two activities of their choice. Przybylski explained that “we are planning Wellness Day for April 21st. It all depends on COVID-19 of course, but we are hopeful we are bringing this fun event for students.” Many people, however, may wonder: “How does the school plan out all of these programs?” To explain this answer, Przybylski replied “We have some state regulations we need to follow each year based on services that need to be provided but [others] than that we [do] off of students’ needs,” Przybylski explained. “In the Student Services Department, we’re always here to listen and give support when support is needed. Our doors are always open!” Oldenburg also explained that “At the beginning of the year, every student here at Central completed a survey about our student wellness groups… For example, this year we started offering a teen Mental Health First Aid certification course in health classes. This program is similar to a CPR or First Aid class but teaches teens how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges. We have also started a violence prevention program called Green Dot, which teaches students how to intervene when they see a potential sign of bullying, sexual assault, and teen dating violence,” Oldenburg explained.

Sydnee Haggard, a senior, has used some of the resources here at GCHS, when asked about what she thought was the best resource she explained that “I would recommend talking with Ms. Nelson. She is very helpful and gives great advice,” Haggard explained. “The mental health resources at GCHS have helped me become less stressed and anxious when I am at school.”

Here at GCHS, mental health resources, and the people providing these resources, are constantly evolving to keep supporting students. The main driving goal of the staff at GCHS has been to support students’ mental health and see them grow as much as possible. Haggard provided advice for students who may be hesitant to get the help she says “The advice I’d give to someone who is hesitant about getting help is, If you believe you need help please know it is okay to ask for help. It’s always okay to not feel okay all the time.”