VA Sec. of Education Hears Mental Health Ideas from CHS Students
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - State leaders could look to initiatives at Charlottesville High School as a model for mental health advocacy across Virginia.
Virginia Secretary of Education Atif Quarni got a chance to sit down with a group of Charlottesville High School students and listen to their mental health struggles Tuesday morning. During the roundtable discussion, students spoke about their own personal mental health struggles and how the mental wellness programs at CHS are helping them through these challenging years of life.
"[It's important to] create an atmosphere and a culture that provides these support systems and to keep social and emotional learning at the forefront because if those support systems are there, every student can be successful," Quarni said.
Some of the mental health programs include a calming space room dedicated to helping students and staff de-stress and recenter. It also includes Green Dot, a national program that trains students and staff in bystander intervention to prevent acts of violence or harassment and to set school norms more positively.
"[Green Dot] helps teens learn how to be an 'upstander' instead of a bystander so when they see harm happening in their community, they feel empowered to stand up and support each other," said CHS counselor Sarah Elaine Hart.
Quarni's visit to CHS is part of a larger effort to highlight mental health programs throughout Virginia during National Suicide Prevention Month.
"[I want to] have an open dialogue where they feel heard by their teachers, by their counselors, by their administrators, and Charlottesville High School is doing a lot of those things," Quarni said.
Quarni says he will take everything back to the governor's office and advocate for more mental health support for students across the state in the upcoming legislative session.