Mental health at Meridian High School

Christina+Wherley+speaks+with+the+students+about+whats+on+their+mind+during+the+ten+minute+Monday+morning+talk.

Alyssa Anglin

Christina Wherley speaks with the students about whats on their mind during the ten minute Monday morning talk.

During this school year, Meridian administrators put in place many ways to aid a student’s mental health. For example, some students organized a Mental Health Advocacy Club and posters are hung around the school to educate students on mental health and advocating. The bell schedule even changes every Monday to fit in a ten-minute break before getting to work in students’ first-hour class. But can a mere ten minutes and a few posters really change Meridian’s environment for the better?

“I think it’s good. My first-hour class is really good about saying what they want to talk about if they want to talk that day,” Christina Wherley, one of Meridian’s English teachers said. “We have other activities that are stress-relieving or coping activities that they’ve suggested, too. In my Monday mornings, the students seem really invested in it, so I think it’s a good thing.”

During the first semester, Wherley’s fourth-hour honors English class came together and organized Meridian’s very first Mental Health Advocacy Club. This club has hopes to bring awareness to students’ mental health issues and bring about a positive change to the school’s environment. This group has recently hung handmade posters about mental health around the school in hopes to educate kids that mental illness is a very real and normal thing, especially for high school students. This group plans to put in place a mental health room in the future.

“We’re always looking to maybe expand what the restorative justice coordinators can do,” Andy Pygott, Meridian’s Superintendent and former middle school principal said. “Then anything that you as a student body, especially high school students, have as any suggestion to help with that, I mean, we’re open to that.”

Pygott hopes for many changes regarding Meridian’s environment surrounding student mental health. He even talks of putting in place social workers who have expressed a desire to help out more in high school.

“I think a lot of students experience mental health issues, whether they’re diagnosed or not. I think stress and anxiety are a huge part of what students are experiencing today more than ever before,” Wherley said. “We have all different kinds of factors creeping in, it could be from home, it could be from friends, social media- I don’t think that’s a cause but I do think it is an influence.”

Wherley believes that Meridian has made lots of progress in awareness of mental health and does the ten-minute talk every Monday. Some students speak out about what’s on their mind, other students can just relax or fill out coloring pages.

“I like the ten-minute talks on Monday because it really gives you a chance in your first-hour class to further connect with your peers and gives a good start to the week,” Alyssa Anglin, a junior in Wherley’s first-hour class said. “It [mental health] can affect them [students] by making them tired, nervous, stressed, and even embarrassed at times if they have social anxiety.”

Both Wherley and Anglin believe that Meridian has been doing a great job with handling student mental health. Wherley thinks that administrators have helped by simply just accepting that mental health is a problem today.

“I think even the students are willing to accept that their classmates struggle with issues,” Wherley said.