Wildcats ‘Wash Away Worries’ During Mental Health Awareness Week

Students wear No Stress Mental Health Awareness wristbands to promote the destigmatization of mental health discussion. The wristbands were distributed to students who participated in mental health awareness activities at the quad during the week of May 15.

Courtesy of BOHS Counseling

Students wear ‘No Stress Mental Health Awareness’ wristbands to promote the destigmatization of mental health discussion. The wristbands were distributed to students who participated in mental health awareness activities at the quad during the week of May 15.

A cluster of tables scattered with fidget toys and “You can!” stickers awaited lunchtime students in the quad. Standing behind each table were veteran BOHS counselors inviting students to participate in mental health awareness activities.

The event, led by Jennifer Cormier, counselor, was a dedicated week of lunchtime activities promoting mental wellness from May 15 to May 19.

Activities included writing positive affirmations, creating stress balls, participating in yoga, and “Wash Away Your Worries,” an opportunity for students to write down their worries and “wash them away” with water. Additionally, BOHS and Brea Junior High hosted “Talk About It Tuesday,” which provided students a forum for healthy dialogue with counseling staff in the quad on Tuesdays. 

“Our big goal was to bring awareness to the fact that so many of us deal with mental health in one way or another, and to help reduce the stigma,” Cormier said. 

The need for increased awareness is evident in recent data about teen mental health. A 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey conducted by the CDC revealed “almost 60% of female students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year.” The numbers for LGBTQ+ students were were even higher, with “close to 70%” experiencing feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

Resources available to BOHS students are listed on the BOHS wellness page, including hotlines, a virtual calming room, steps for mindful meditation, and infographics regarding suicide prevention. For students experiencing mental health struggles or crises, the Text-A-Tip Hotline accepts anonymous submissions 24/7. The campus also offers scheduled appointments with designated student counselors, and access to Care Solace, an organization that works with BOHS to pair families with professional mental health providers.  

Cecilia Araujo, BOHS assistant principal, hopes that through these resources, students, and their families, “feel empowered, safe and accepted regardless of the challenges they face.”

Aalia Rodriguez, junior, pours sand into a balloon to create a stress ball on May 15 as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. (Courtesy of BOHS Counseling)

In addition to events in the quad, the Wellness Club, a BOHS club dedicated to helping students understand the importance of physical and mental wellness, partnered with BOHS counselors to bring Martha Lopez, a mental health resource from organization Shanti Orange County, to Room 125 at lunch on May 17. 

Wellness Club member Gabriella Reyno, junior, remarked, “The speaker’s thoughts were really insightful and gave a lot of helpful tips to cope with stress and mental health. I really enjoyed having an outside speaker talk about topics like this.”

Audrey Kim, junior and president of Wellness Club, said of the weeklong event: “The activities the counselors planned got our student body engaged and exposed the ways that we can balance our mental health and wellness.”

The week-long events were part of a larger effort by BOUSD counselors to expand awareness about the plethora of mental health resources available to students and their families. For the first time, counselors from all six elementary schools, Brea Junior High School, Brea Canyon High School, and BOHS are working in coalition to form a BOUSD Mental Health Committee.

Arianna Townsend, counselor at Country Hills and Mariposa Elementary School, recalls that “as a K-12 School Counseling Department we…brainstormed ideas and collaborated throughout the school year to share various activities [to] advocate for mental health [and] to meet the needs of our students.”

Cormier said, “It was exciting as a professional to plan with other like minded professionals, but we’re still learning so that we can continue to improve in years to come.”

Araujo notes that “our district’s mission to focus on mental wellness has allowed counselors to address and fill the knowledge gaps that exist surrounding mental health and wellness.”

As a whole, Araujo hopes that the district will put collective efforts to “normalize conversations surrounding mental health so people can feel comfortable to seek the help they need.”