Mental Health is widely talked about among communities. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 13.8% of teenagers struggle with anxiety or depression.
To address this concern, Melissa Gomez has joined the staff at McNicholas High School as a mental health and wellness counselor. She was previously a counselor at a local grade school. Gomez has always loved working with students and is extremely excited to be a part of the staff.
Gomez stated, “Teens struggle with a lot of anxiety because so much is put on them. They are told to be on a sports team, do extracurricular activities and you also have homework and a social life. It is almost like you guys are overwhelmed with so much which will bring out anxiety.”
Mental health is emotional, psychological, and social well-being according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It can affect mood, thinking, and behavior every day and can be caused by not just life experiences or things going on but based on DNA.
The stigma around mental health is that it is seen as “bad” or “negative” and people should be ashamed of, even though it is normal to struggle. However, Gomez states, “the stigma around mental health doesn’t have to be negative.”
Gomez stated that “mental health is just as important as physical health.” This became clear in the last two years as people had time to sit with their thoughts during quarantines.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the country, particularly surrounding mental health. Gomez stated, “it brought up things that adults or the youth didn’t realize they struggled with previously” due to online school, getting sick, and not being able to see loved ones.
At McNicholas, HOPE Squad provides a place for students to be there for people who need support. Gomez stated, “to help people we have to talk about mental health.”
HOPE Squad provides a safe space to have conversations to reduce the stigma. Gomez stated, “it’s important to find our happiness and to find our joy and that is all a part of mental health.”