The San Diego Unified School District is working on a plan to make mental health become part of the core curriculum in its schools and it's thanks to a push from some students who want to take the stigma away from mental illness.
“When I was in middle school, I was noticing all of my friends were struggling to cope with all the stresses in life,” said Catherine Delgado, a Mira Mesa High School senior.
“I think the beginning of the pandemic really shone a light on mental health not just for my peers, but for me,” said Kate Chasin, a Sierra High School Junior.
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“I struggled with a lot of anxiety during my life and a little bit of childhood trauma. I struggled with a lot of anxiety during my life and a little bit of childhood trauma,” said Alex Mondragon, a San Diego High School Junior.
They are all part of The Student Wellness Education and Resources (SWEAR) committee. The students wrote a resolution and presented it to the board asking that it make mental health wellness a top priority and embed it into the curriculum.
“We find more students who experience mental health training during class, as well as learning coping tips and strategies, will then be able to use it back in their community as well as talking with their friends about important issues they may be having too,” Mondragon said.
The SWEAR committee has four priorities for the plan:
- Education on serious mental illnesses
- Giving coping strategies to deal with everyday stress
- Knowing warning signs
- Knowing when and where to get help
“I just have this vision of five to 10 years in the future walking back on to my high school campus and hearing two students chit chatting about lunch and having one of them say, ‘I’m so nervous’ and the other say, ‘You can go to counselor’ or ‘You can go to wellness center,” Chasin said.
The board passed the resolution, one that was a long time in the making.
“Now, we can actually visualize students going to school every day, taking classes, feeling comfortable about reaching out to counselors for help. It just felt very relieving,” Delgado said.
“Our school district passing it shows they really want to put in the effort to cater to common students’ needs and listen to students who want to make those changes,” Chasin said.
The students will be part of a task force to help come up with a plan that will be presented to the board in 90 days.
Members of the Cesar Chavez Service Clubs representing elementary and middle school students also supported the resolution.