Peer Counselors Conduct Mental Health Forums

By Necati Unsal, Deputy Editor

The pandemic, online learning, and all aspects of the Covid experience have affected students’ mental health. Luckily for students, as things return to normal and student groups reassume standard roles throughout the school, groups like the Peer Counselors have stepped in to address mental health issues, especially those concerning the peculiar circumstances of the pandemic.

On December 3rd, Peer Counselors joined advisories to discuss mental health, a pertinent issue not only considering the aforementioned stress of getting back to a normal school year, but also the college process, senioritis, and other general senior stresses.

Other topics were covered as well, such as the schedule and its impact on seniors, the dress code and what it will look like in the future, and setting norms for the rest of the school (with the seniors having an important perspective, as the grade that has most experienced what a normal year is like). All of these topics sparked discussion, which was something refreshing for students who just now are getting the opportunity to share their thoughts on forums after a nearly two-year hiatus.

Students expressed their enjoyment of the forum, noting the work by student facilitators. Senior Abi Baker noted that: “The peer counselors created a safe and authentic place where myself and my peers could reflect on one of the most challenging periods of our high school careers.”

In addition, other students were happy about the opportunity the forum created for discussion. Senior Cooper Brown was especially satisfied with the chance to share their thoughts on a variety of issues, saying: “I really enjoyed the forums. I think sometimes you just need to vent and open up about things that you usually don’t have the space to talk about. I hope we can do more of these in the future on different topics.”

Another student, Senior Miles Stewart said that, “especially in the midst of college applications, I was happy to talk with my peers about mental health, which is often neglected.”

Even Mr. Paige, the Director of Upper School, noted the importance of this forum, and of those to come in the future: “Often we think that everyone ‘feels’ the way that we do, but hearing other people’s reactions allows us to see the multitude of perspectives that exist on any topic. Also, standing up to share one’s thoughts in a measured way is a great skill that will benefit students in so many ways in the future.”

Hopefully in the future with the success of the dress code forum, and now the mental health forum, other issues can have their place. Mr. Paige said that hopes that “the students request more of them on topics that they are passionate about. I think it is very useful for both the students and the communities.”