By Julia Rusiecki
The last few years have been stressful for both teachers and students alike. The importance of the destigmatization of mental health has already been a topic that a lot of people started to raise, but with the pandemic having an even bigger impact on people, it became an even more essential issue.
That is what motivated AT’s social worker and school psychologist Sally Garduño to create a new club at the school. The Teens Care club aims to create a safe space for students and spark conversations about mental health.
Garduño spoke out on what made her think of creating the club, “I wanted to start it because I know we have a lot of really cool clubs here, but I wanted one that prioritized wellness, like all around wellness and doing it through teens teaching teens.
“I really wanted there to be a hub for ideas and fun ways to spread kindness and love and just things that sound cheesy and sound like they don’t help, but actually indirectly the solution to destigmatizing mental diagnosis and stuff like that.”
Garduño shared some of the thinking process behind the club’s goal, “The main goal of the club itself is to consistently have some knowledge out there and have some discussion surrounding wellness mentioned throughout the year.
“I don’t want it to be only around mental health awareness month. I’d like to not only talk about it, but also have some activities surrounding it available to students, something a little bit more interactive.”
The club doesn’t have one specific goal, but rather focuses generally on the topic of mental health and attempts to help students talk about and process their problems. It provides students with different solutions and ways to work through their everyday struggles.
Having a staff member who is educated and trained on discussing mental health adds a lot of value to the club and its efficiency.
“As the school psychologists, we are trained to do a lot of different things, but it all kind of is summarized by basically advocating for students through evidence based programs and things we know that work by science so that you guys can get the most out of your learning.
“That can be directly helping students through maybe counseling, which I do, or even through ideas about how to practice math, reading, writing skills, or even like consulting with other staff members and teachers to brainstorm ideas and solutions for barriers that are keeping students from being able to learn,” explained Garduño.
Students have already expressed their enthusiasm when they heard about the club. Junior Annie Olsen instantly liked the idea of the club.
“When I first heard of the idea for Teens Care I thought it was a great club to join. I really liked the thought of promoting mental health and I think it’s very important to talk about and it is not talked about enough.
“Teens Care aligned with some of my beliefs and I want more people to know about it to get involved and join us to advocate for people’s mental health,” she shared.
The club is a great and creative solution to a problem faced by students in schools everywhere, setting an important example for other schools.