What is the Wellness Center?
About a third of Piedmont High School students and a quarter of Piedmont Middle School students receive counseling at the PUSD Wellness Center every year. And it’s up to us to keep it going, so they always have this resource. Senior Danny Allen says he used the wellness center a few years ago.
Danny: I did therapy for about a year or two there and it’s just really awesome. I felt super safe there and I felt like the therapist there really cared about me.
Danny says there’s no stigma for using the Wellness Center because there are snacks, tea and students go there all the time throughout the school day.
Danny: Students can go there to talk about really whatever they want and it’s a place where students feel comfortable. They can go there and their parents don’t really have to know. And it’s nice because it feels safe.
How Did the Wellness Center Start?
Brooke Zimmerman worked for PUSD for over 20 years. You started the Wellness Center 15 years ago. Why was there a need to start something like this in our community?
Brooke: So when you work in a public school district, you’re mandated to have students take a test called the Healthy Kids Survey and our results were kind of shocking. Students indicating that they were using drugs, alcohol and also indicated suicidal ideation.
So what’s it like to see that it’s still going 15 years later?
Brooke: It is beyond extraordinary to me. The moms worked so hard with me to make sure that this was embedded in the school district and now it is.
Mental Health & Learning
Joseph Marik, Assistant Principal at Pidmont High School, says mental health is critical the learning.
Joe: If any person, a young person in our case, is going to learn anything, they need to feel safe. They need to feel secure and confident in themselves. They need to feel confident in the community around them and social emotional learning and mental health awareness is a huge component of being able to learn.
The Wellness Center recently received accreditation by the American Psychological Association, one of the top organizations recognized in the field of therapeutic support. It was a two year process, but now the wellness center has access to the best interns nationwide. Funding for the wellness center comes from three main sources; the school district, grants from the county, and the community.
Community Donations Needed
Irma: At least a third of the funding comes from the parent donations. We were able to secure two interns thanks to the contributions from our parent committee. Contributing to the center is essential to keeping it running. The district by itself cannot fund the whole center.
The Wellness Center is run by two clinical supervisors who are fully licensed therapists and they supervise 5 to 7 interns. Danny says it’s important to keep this safe space for students in our community.
Danny: It makes the students feel safe and feel like they belong, which is a really important thing that we’re trying to do here in Piedmont. I think that’s something that also makes it super special. Students just have a place where they can be themselves and that people can listen to them. And then they can become better and help build our entire community.
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