Students Taking Charge of Their Mental Health

Allie Schwartz and Riley Murphy

Take you and four of your friends. At least one of you will struggle with mental health at one time in your high school career. 

Mental health in teenagers has become a larger topic of discussion today. Mental health is not just depression, it is anxiety, anger management, or behavior problems. More and more teenagers struggle with mental health every year. 

Seeking support can help individuals cope with these situations. One program that is available in the Gunnison Watershed School District are the Gunnison/Crested Butte Youth Wellness Programs (GYWP).

The school district is also implementing a program in partnership with Gunnison Valley Health’s new Department of Behavioral Health to place clinical therapists in all of our schools.

The school district is funding one position for three years using COVID relief money, while the second position is funded by Gunnison County Juvenile Services using a grant they secured that also lasts for a three year period. 

The district’s goal is to eventually have five therapists available for students.

“Since the statistics of teenage mental illness have increased, the school district is implementing a program within schools,” said GWSD superintendent Leslie Nichols. “The pandemic has put a spotlight on the importance of social emotional learning and mental health for students and for staff in our school district.” 

Nichols went on to say that these additions will compliment the already substantial services provided by school counselors in each of the buildings. School counselors provide great options for short-term check-ins, while these programs provide increased access to long term clinical therapy. 

“When kids’ social emotional and mental health is tended, they can show up to school able to learn more, and that is fantastic,” added Nichols.

Jessica Vogan is one of the counselors at Gunnison High School (GHS) and previously worked as a therapist. As the pandemic has limited social interaction, mental health has become more and more important. 

“We have the belief that we can fix (our mental health) ourselves,” said Vogan. “Humans are wired to be social beings which is why connecting with others and getting their support is a really valuable way to address our mental health.”       

If you or someone you know are struggling with mental health, reach out to Gunnison county youth wellness programs by emailing [email protected], or visiting their website to set up a counselling time, or talk to a counselor. 

If immediate help is needed, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255.