The Mental Health Struggle

Mariners+Counselors+and+Nurse+Office.

Aaron Ton

Mariner’s Counselors and Nurse Office.

Aaron Ton (he/him) 10th Grade, Section Editor (Sports)

Mental health has been a prominent issue at Mariner High School. Anxiety, stress, and depression caused by factors in a student’s academic and personal life are not getting enough attention. Principal Nate DuChesne recognizes the struggles that students are dealing with concerning mental health.

“I think we have a lot of kids that need mental health support,” DuChesne said. “This problem has just been magnified because of the pandemic.”

Many students feel that they aren’t receiving the support that they need. The resources that can help students are of minimal availability; counselors are having to step in to fill a role in assisting students’ mental health needs.

“There are not enough resources to deal with students’ mental health at Mariner,” DuChesne said. “Waiting lists [for therapists] are long. We are lucky to have three mental health counselors on campus, but we would like more resources.”

Unfortunately, these therapists are only available for specific students that have been seeing them since middle school and are in certain circumstances.

“The therapists are not openly available to all students,” counselor Sandie Vea said. “I would love to have an on-site therapist for student help.”

Mariner High School students also feel that an on-site therapist would be useful.

“An on-site therapist would be best for our mental health,” sophomore Aimee Le said.

Many students have never interacted with counselors for matters not related to scheduling, graduation, and financial issues.

“I’ve been to the counselor for school stuff, but not for anything regarding mental health,” senior Jasmine Jaramillo Cruz said.

Academic-related subjects seem to be the only reason that most students visit the counselors at Mariner.

“I haven’t been to the counselor for anything else,” Le said.

The reason that students don’t reach out to counselors for their mental health needs is that they feel that counselors are not as helpful in dealing with those problems.

“I don’t go to counselors for my mental health,” Jaramillo Cruz said. “I think my mom is more of a mental health counselor for me.”

Many students think that counselors are advertised as all-purpose cures for any issues that a student might be having.

“When you think of counselors, you think of someone who attends to a student’s needs,” Le said. “But it’s not all their needs; it’s their school’s needs, not their personal needs.”

Office of a Mariner counselor. (Aaron Ton)

Counselors at Mariner feel pressure from not knowing how to help students. Those available on campus are regularly occupied with helping students in many ways. Mental health is another daunting task for them on their already busy schedule. Vea feels that they aren’t equipped to help students with their mental health issues.

“We’re considered comprehensive counselors and it comes in threefold; we cover the academic, career/college, and social-emotional aspects of a student’s life,” Vea said.

The social-emotional aspect is much more difficult for Mariner’s counselors to effectively help students with.

“We aren’t mental health therapists,” Vea said. “We listen and refer and see if a student is open to therapy. Our job is to provide a space for them.”

Students feel that the counselors at Mariner do a great job at aiding them with academics, but they think that adding mental health to the things that counselors have to help them with isn’t beneficial to counselors or students.

“They’re doing well at what they’re meant to be doing, like helping with registration and graduation, but they’re having to do stuff that they aren’t entailed to do,” Le said.

Vea agrees that supporting students with their mental health is not very helpful since they also have to handle their academics, in addition to plans for college and their careers.

“We are often overwhelmed from all of the stuff that gets put on our plate,” Vea said.

Counselors have received phone calls from parents regarding the depression that students are dealing with, which has affected their well-being and caused them to miss school. This places the counselors in a difficult position;

“I don’t know what to do [in those situations] because I have no answer,” Vea said. “We do our best, but resources for social-emotional health are so limited and it’s frustrating for everyone; it’s not good for counselors, it’s not good for students, and it’s not good for parents.”

Vea speaks for all of Mariner’s counselors when she says that she would like the academic aspect of helping kids to be her main focus. An on-site therapist that is accessible to all students would be able to make this happen.

“I enjoy working with kids in the academic world, like scheduling classes and helping them navigate systems,” Vea said. “I don’t mind the mental health support, but the academic help is what I like.”