At Gahanna Lincoln High School, counselors offer a combination of group counseling and individual counseling sessions. The high school also has a dedicated SMART (Stress Management and Resiliency Training) Lab, which is a safe place for students to go when they’re feeling overly anxious or overwhelmed. One activity available in the SMART Lab is a heart monitoring station where students can track their heart rate when they arrive, choose a calming activity such as breathing exercises, and then test their heart rate again to see how it has changed. Students may also choose other calming activities such as drawing and coloring, yoga exercises or even an elliptical machine depending on what type of activity best helps them decompress when feeling overly stressed.
Kristen Santel discusses Trauma-Informed Care in the classroom with teachers and staff.
“Many students are struggling with participating in too many activities or AP classes, especially as they get older,” said Kelley. “They get worried about making mistakes and struggle when they get something wrong. Teachers are given information to help them understand how to identify when high performing students may be feeling this way and to give them the tools they need to have a healthy view of academic and life balance. The gifted department also understands mental health and can help deal with issues that stem from the pressures these students put on themselves.”
Proactively, the mental health professionals in the district are teaching all students healthy coping strategies to use as symptoms of depression or anxiety arise. The district trains teachers to identify students who may have mental health or behavioral issues. They collaborate with counselors regularly to identify red flags and the students who may need support – referring them directly to school counselors. If situations need to be dealt with outside of school, students are connected with external counseling services.
If parents are concerned about mental health issues in their children, they can seek resources from the school. Counselors will help parents understand if the issues are school-based or if the student should seek outside help.
To learn more or to ask questions, parents can reach out to Lisa Kelley at kellyL@gjps.com.