New student Wellness Center provides space for relaxation and decompression

Kayla Baltazar, News-Features/Opinion Editor

  Low and relaxing music, a welcoming smile, a calm environment to relax– the new Wellness Center located at B102 is open for any student to come in and destress. 

  “This is a safe space in the building for students to be able to use and come down in order to destress, and reset mentally,” said SEL Interventionist C. Duke Novak. “[Students] can learn healthy coping strategies to manage anxiety and different other emotions as well. We like to educate students on healthy living. Educating on proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, that kind of thing as well.”

  Originally envisioned by Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Jamie DiCarlo, the Wellness Center not only is a place for students to calm down, it also provides resources and support groups for students when they need it.

  Assistant Principal of Student Life Stevee Libert notes that the groups within the Wellness Center can be a great resource for anyone who needs it. 

  “It also serves to house a lot of groups, so students who want to be in a group for learning how to cope with anxiety, or students who are in a group to learn how to cope with grief, or how there’s an art wellness group– there’s all sorts of group function out of that space,” Libert noted.

  But even if you’re not exactly looking for a group to join, the center can just be a safe place to relax. Novak notes that he and all the adults working in the Wellness Center are there for the students. 

  “It is one of my goals to make sure that every student has a safe space to go to if they need to decompress, and to have an adult that they can trust to speak to if they’re having some sort of internal struggle, or if their mental health may be a challenge at the moment, or a social situation might be hard to manage,” Novak said. “I just think it’s important these days to have a space for students to be able to learn about themselves and their emotions and their mental health.”

  Sylvanna Sette, Wellness Center assistant, explains how exactly students can use the Wellness Center.

  “During the day, students can make appointments using our app. They can either use the QR code or the link posted [on the] school website,” Sette said. “They go in, put their ID number and name, and indicate if they want to consult or not, then they come in, check in, and they decompress in here.”

  Despite it being a new addition to MHS, the Wellness Center is already noticing positive feedback from students. 

  “We’ve seen a lot of students already using it, but what I’m seeing a lot is students who are using the space over and over again, practicing the strategies they’re learning from either their own student services team or from Mr. Novak which I think is so great– they’re like repeat customers,” said Libert. “They’re coming back and realizing, ‘oh, this is really a space I can use to re-regulate my day. This is somewhere I can go where it’s safe, it’s quiet, and I’m supported in the ways I need.’”

  Many students who have already utilized this resource have expressed how useful they find the center. Junior Adriyanna Tesimu recommends anyone come in “any time, all the time!”. 

  “They created a really welcoming environment,” Tesimu said. “That space– it’s just calming. It’s really nice, especially if you’re struggling or having a bad day or just need a break.”

  Not only is the Wellness Center for students, it can be used by teachers as well.

  “As much as this space is for students, we have opened up this space for teachers too,” Novak explains. “‘Cause they’re human as well. We all get stressed out, or overwhelmed, so staff [are] also able to use this space.”

  The future of the Wellness Center is looking bright. There are many things to be looking forward to in there, many upcoming plans coming to fruition.

  “We’re going to have dog therapy here, starting once a month,” Sette says. “So students or classes can come down and be with our therapy dogs.”

  The Wellness Center is an important new resource that many hope more students begin to utilize. It’s important to remember that there is a place in school where anyone is allowed to come in and take a breather and relax. 

  “[I want to] get the word out to students, [such as]  how they can drop in and figure out if there’s space available or to make an appointment,” said Novak. “We want it to be used.”