Student counseling continues to become a primary support for students

Students and counselors share steps for achieving a future of better communication


 

By Jacob McMillen

 

Graphic by Jacob McMillen

Counselors at Holt High School struggle to keep up with the expanding desire for guidance from students. Students now more than ever are seeking help with both their academics and their mental health. However, without comfort and communication between student and counselor, supporting students becomes challenging.

Senior counselor Lindsay Schaeff spoke about her way of helping students in whatever way they need.

“I think the number one thing that we're here for is just to be [here] for the students, for personal and family issues, or school issues or anything like that, you know, helping the kids,” Schaeff said.

She also talked about the different ways the counseling department supports students.

“We've tried to seem more accessible with doing the QR codes, you know, so that people can do that, or email. It's been nice being back in person, to be able to help students. We did create this common room for students who have anxiety and may just need a space to sit for five minutes and then go back to class.”

Schaeff also spoke about helping students with many other problems that happen in and out of school. One way they do this is through Ele’s place, an organization that helps students through loss of family.

“But I would say that in guidance, you know, we are here to guide, whether it's academically, socially, or personally. If [students are] struggling, we're here to provide grief support,” Schaeff said. “We've had Ele’s Place last year, but it just kind of fell through the cracks. So, I say we try to provide all the different kinds of support.”


Graphic by Jacob McMillen

Underclassman counselor Kim Reichard spoke about the departments’ desire to grow and the need to hear student opinion in order for that to happen.

“Last year, we did the mental health newsletters that went out, and I don't know if anybody even paid attention to them, but they were a nice resource. And then we did PALS, we did the Kindness Week. Things like that, you know?” Reichard said.

Students are the only people who know what best supports them, which makes them important when talking about counseling. Freshman Lola Knox communicated her experience with the counseling department while coming into high school.

“I personally don't really communicate with my counselor that much. I mean, when I need him, I obviously would contact him first. Personally, just because I feel like it's easier to talk to someone who's not technically in your life, because it's easier for them to just like, pay attention and talk like to see what you're talking about,” Knox said.


Graphic by Jacob McMillen

Senior Paige Thompkins discussed their interactions with the counseling department in their senior year of high school.

“For senior year, I haven't seen so much as an individual reach out, more as just mass sending emails and Google Classroom notifications to all of us. And then if we reach out personally, she's done a good job of making sure we get that one on one communication, then from freshman to junior year, there hasn't really been any reach out,” Thompkins stated.

Junior Haden Massey also communicated her experiences with the department.

“I mean, we just scheduled today, but I think I already asked Mrs. Schaeff questions, and she's helped me a lot. But I think getting prepared for senior year has definitely been a lot. And I wish that there would have been more communication… I know that they have a lot of students, but at least just checking in at least every other month, just sending an email or pulling them out of class and just reminding them that they're there for you,” Massey said.

Thompkins stated their thoughts on having more communication coming from the counseling department.

Thompkins stated, “I think that more frequent checkups with the students is a very good idea. Because nine times out of 10, when something is going wrong in a student's life, they're not going to reach out and say it out of fear or anxiety or anything like that. So being the first one to make the approach could help in a lot of ways.”

Knox also feels that there should be more of a reach out to students rather than just student initiated conversations.

“I think they should like, maybe like, give out a survey to their students and see how they're doing. Make sure they're contacting them first, because sometimes it's harder for us to…contact them first,” Knox said.

However, students could also reach for some improvement in regards to approaching their counselors.

Schaeff Addressed the complexities of working as a counselor and the challenges of meeting all of those needs of their students. While counselors would love to reach out to all of their students more often, the demands of their jobs often leave them stretched thin.

“I would love to just have it be us working with kids about mental health, you know, working on personal social emotional problems, things like that. But there's just a lot of complexity to our jobs … So if a kid is like, ‘I need to talk to you right now,’alright, we're going to talk to you first. And then if it's just… something that's like, not super important. I'm like, ‘I hear you, I want to talk to you.’But I have deadlines for this, this and this. So can we work together?’” Schaeff said.


Graphic by Jacob McMillen

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