Helping Teens At School
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on June 7, 2016
I am dreaming of consulting to a high school wellness center where students are free to talk about their experiences, and concerning behaviors of self-injury, substance abuse, poor relationship choices can be discussed in a context of caring and concern, with a relatively low threshold to suggest psychotropic medication. In essence a place for teenagers to feel listened to, as a way to value listening as a healing art. This imaginary wellness center would be staffed by one psychiatrists, two psychotherapists, one yoga teacher, and parent and peer volunteers who want to help students who have found a bump in their road to adulthood. There would be couches, and ping-pong tables, and quiet spaces, and music areas, along with arts and crafts supplies and quiet confidential areas to talk in private. This would be part community center, part health club, part mental health clinic. Students would not be forced to go, but rather learn about this as an option, in case the “stress” ever gets to them. Students with school refusal could relax at the Wellness Center until he/she was comfortable migrating to the classroom. Clubs, or support groups, might form for students whose parents are getting divorced, or who are dealing with a loved one who is sick and/or dying. There might be periodic talks on mental health issues, such as “Thinking About Depression in Teens” or “Sports Supplements: Are they good for you?” My contention is that a Wellness Center on Campus will diminish the need for students to go on psychotropic medication and it will limit the number of students who need psychiatric hospitalization for self-injurious or suicidal behaviors. Where does the money come from, speaking from my imagination? The money comes from the school district, health insurance companies, and private donations. Who runs the place? A child psychiatrist, of course. Am I looking for a new gig? Maybe.