Hayes provides various mental health resources to students

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Carter Sims

Posters in Jen Shonebarger’s office promote well-being and and a welcoming environment.

Carter Sims, Staff Writer

With mental health being a prevalent issue in teens, the access to support at school can be a defining aspect to a student’s mental state. At Hayes, many services are available to students struggling mentally, ranging from emotional support for a student having a rough day, to assistance for a student in a crisis situation.
While counselors are trained to deal with such matters and refer students to the necessary resources, the idea of what they do can shifts for students in high school.
“At a middle school level, counselors seemed to work more closely with students, and focused on helping students with emotions simply because it was a complex age,” sophomore Carissa Matson said. “At high school, it seems that the counselors are really only present when working with students on scheduling or post-graduate plans.”
While counselors do have schedule changes and logistical workings to attend to, according to counselor Jen Shonebarger, changes in recent years have evolved the role.
“I know everyone thinks we’re doing schedules and the academic piece, which is a big part of our job, but I would say especially since COVID 19, the mental health aspect takes up more of our role in what we do everyday,” Shonebarger said. “We’ve seen such an increase in students in crisis or needing help, especially since Covid. We do have training, and a lot of us have a background in mental health, so it’s definitely a lot of what we do.”
Shonebarger said that while there are certain situations where connecting a student to another program or service may be needed, there is a vast range of topics that students can talk with the counselor about.
“We have students daily [who] come in who might be having issues at home, maybe something with parents, just something outside of school in their home-life, maybe a friendship issue or relationship issue, and they’re just struggling trying to get through the day,” Shonebarger said. “It could be something very traumatic, maybe a death in the family, or it could be something such as a fight with a friend. There’s various degrees of problems that students come to us with.”
In an event that there is a student in a more severe situation, access to other organizations can be provided.
“We focus on what we call ‘solution focus.’ What can we do, how can we support you to get you through this school day and get you back to class?” Shonebarger said. “If a student needs a little bit more than that, more intensive and more therapy per se, we do have a full time mental health therapist from Syntero.”
Syntero is a non-profit organization that supports the mental and emotional wellbeing of individuals, and is in contract with Delaware Hayes. Therapist Shannon Miller can meet with students for up to 10 free sessions and will arrange a schedule around the student’s classes and activities. If more therapy is needed after these sessions, Miller can refer the student to outside counseling for further assistance.

Overall, my main focus is to be a good listener and to provide social and emotional learning opportunities.”

— Alicia Mumper

Hayes also participated in a mentorship program through Americorps, an initiative that is focused on supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development. Alicia Mumper provides ongoing support to selected students throughout the year, and can meet with others who are looking for someone to talk to.
“Overall, my main focus is to be a good listener and to provide social and emotional learning opportunities,” Mumper said in her address to students. “Many topics fall under the umbrella of social and emotional learning such as assertive communication, identifying needs, expressing emotions appropriately, conflict and stress management, and many more.”
Hayes also provides the “Signs of Suicide” screening to students in health classes. This program can assist in identifying students who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings.
“Each semester we work with HelpLine of Delaware County, who run the Signs of Sucide Program,” Shonebarger said. “They will come present to the classes how to recognize somebody who’s struggling and what to do if they mention or show signs of suicide.”
This 2-day process includes a survey, asking students questions on if they’ve had suicidal thoughts, and if they’d like to talk to someone. If a student were to say yes, counselors would then call them down and discuss with them.

Students who don’t have a relationship with a counselor have also found comfort speaking to another trusted adult or staff member.
“I am a performing arts student, and because of the massive amounts of time I spend inside and outside of school with all my directors, I’ve been able to form trusting relationships with them,” Matson said. “If I’m going through a challenging situation, I am infinitely more likely to talk to one of them than any other adult at school.”
While mental health is an ongoing battle that is faced by people in all walks of life, the staff at Hayes look to provide the supportive staff, necessary counseling and outside resources to accommodate students as they face issues in their lives.

Is there a Hayes staff member you feel comfortable talking to, when you are struggling with someone?

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