The Scribe

Wilcox Student Wellness Center

Dana Lee, Staff Writer

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One of the first words that pops into an average student’s head when they think of school is often “stressed.” More often than not, high school students are overwhelmed by the workload of their classes, the increased pressure to succeed, and the new expectations and responsibilities placed on their shoulders. Studies led by New York University show that many teens suffer “high levels of chronic stress, to the extent it impedes their abilities to succeed academically.” The research also reveals that chronic stress can continue into the college years, and possibly contributes to mental health problems during adulthood.
The Wilcox Student Wellness Center was founded to address this growing issue. Sharon Kwan, Wilcox’s wellness coordinator, believes that “students’ social and emotional health has a direct impact on how well they do at school.” The wellness program is there for students to receive help with challenges of all kinds, from mental illness to family problems. The idea is to address those issues so that the students can do their best when they are at school.
The wellness center is also there to put teachers and parents in a better position to support students. While all parents want to help their son or daughter succeed, they may not have access to the right resources.

COURTESY OF DANA LEE                                                                           Anyone is welcome at the new Student Wellness Center!

The wellness program aims to bridge that gap. For example, some students need extra help but do not want to miss class for counseling. The wellness center can help connect the student and the family to a therapist or an agency outside of school. Mrs. Kwan has worked with agencies that specialize in everything from eating disorders to housing resources. “We don’t always have all the resources and answers, but we can refer students and families to other places that do,” assures Mrs. Kwan.
The wellness program is different from regular guidance counseling in several ways. Mrs. Kwan has “access to schedules so that I can meet with students, but I have nothing to do with classes, or SATs, or anything that are the expertise of guidance counselors.” Mrs. Kwan sees the entire school employees, including herself, school psychologists, and guidance counselors, “as part of a student support team, a group of staff who are here to support our students’ social and emotional needs.” Right now, the center has two mental health counselors, at least one of which is on campus every day.
Raising more awareness about the wellness center is one of Mrs. Kwan’s goals. The center is brand new; Mrs. Kwan recently moved into her office last September. “It’s certainly not as well-utilized as I hoped it would be,” she says, “but that is understandable because we’ve just got started, and this is the first year.” In addition, the wellness center is tucked away in an obscure corner of campus, in the portables next to the main gym. Right now, most students who use it are referred by teachers via word-of-mouth.
The center’s services are available to anybody who would like some extra support, even if they are not interested in ongoing counseling. Mrs. Kwan has had students that she has only met with twice. Students who just need a place to open up are welcome as well. “Once the center is set up as a drop-in place,” Mrs. Kwan says, “I’d love for this place to serve that purpose, too.”

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The student news site of Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, California
Wilcox Student Wellness Center