You Are Not Alone: O’Dowd’s Mental Health Resources

General Mental Health Declines As Quarantine Continues

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Isi Szuhaj, Contributor

As we are all aware, the six months of quarantine have felt like an eternity and taken a toll on many people’s mental health. Everyone in our community has felt the effects of the isolation, as social interaction and normal habits are no longer apart of our daily lives. As teenagers, we are also going through a pivotal time in our lives, making our mental health more fragile.

However, it is important to be aware of the many resources and support groups, both student and faculty-led, which are available to everyone in the O’Dowd community.

One of the most helpful resources is the counseling department. This year the department has hired two more counselors in order to give students more individual counseling, especially those seeking extra support. “O’Dowd is working hard to support the mental health and well-being of students during remote learning in a variety of ways, from making adjustments to the schedule to increasing the capacity to provide therapy to students via secure video conferencing,” states Mr. Lederer, head of the Health and Wellness department. “And we have our wonderful Counselors who are available to help students with everything from academic to personal and family stressors and our dedicated teachers who have been trained in suicide prevention and trauma-informed approaches to teaching and learning”.

You’re not alone because at the beginning of quarantine it was really hard to stay positive about all the things I was missing out on. For example, softball games and senior night, lunches with my friends, psych class, and just quality time with my friends all at once. It was really hard for me to not believe we weren’t going back to school last fall and just knowing I wasn’t the only person missing saying goodbye to the seniors or sports made a difference in my life.” – Steffi Smith, a senior leader of Bring Change to Mind.

Mr. Lederer also spoke to the student involvement in bettering or maintaining health and wellness for students, both on and off-campus. There are two major groups that promote student wellness through many different strategies.

The first large group is the health and wellness student interns, who have dedicated an entire course to learning and brainstorming how to support the well-being of the Bishop O’Dowd community. The interns will also be assisting Mr. Lederer in running different activities during Health and Wellness Week, aimed at spreading awareness of different topical issues involving mental illness.

Another group is Bring Change 2 Mind, a club that focuses on destigmatizing mental health issues and supporting those living with mental illness. The dedicated group of club leaders feel that now more than ever, it is extremely important to educate people about the truths of mental illness and how it affects everyone in some way, shape, or form. The club hosts wellness activities, posts facts and stats about mental illness, and connects members of the club to the larger national organization of BC2M for events. These events include panels that regularly host guest speakers such as Will Smith and Chase Stokes.

Eleanor Cooley, the vice president of the O’Dowd BC2M Club, says, “We believe it is important to break down the stereotypes surrounding mental illness as well as educate our on this issue, which we strive as a chapter to do.” As the president of the club, I second this statement.

As everyone is affected by mental health issues, especially during quarantine, I urge everyone to utilize the resources available in the O’Dowd community and remember that you are not alone.