Creating a Student Mental Health Panel
Taylor Hayes, State President
One, my name is Taylor Hayes. I’m the OASC state president. And I’m here to talk to you about creating a mental health panel within your school. So at Oregon City high school, the school that I go to and an ASB president of has created a student mental health panel this year. And I would like to share with you about how to create one as well as the process of working with your admin.
The first step to this is creating a panel. So our panel was composed of all student council folks for this year, just because these are reliable people that I knew I could trust when starting out this program. First we have MI, then we have winter Davis, our unity director, Aaron May Morales, our freshmen treasurer.We have Ella Rsey, our community service director, Maya Wooten, our media director, obvi Polero a unity representative and Jordan Parks, our ASB exec assistant.
So when we first began, this, it really started out, , on a zoom call. And this was talking about hybrid and all the different plans. And there were parents with questions about our plans to support student mental health.
And as I was sitting on this soon call, I heard the staff say that there was an SEL team of adults, teachers, and admin staff, as well as counseling staff that were working on creating different things for students during the upcoming school year. That would support student mental health and immediately knowing that these people are going to be making decisions for the students.
I just knew that there had to be input coming from the students. So I sent an email to my principal in the summer asking about getting involved with this program and possibly organizing a group of students who could sit on, sit in on those meetings and give their opinions. Come around to the fall time.
I had gotten approval from our principal and had been put in contact with one of our counseling interns, the counseling staff, as well as the school psychologist and some admin, this group was able to toss around ideas with us and decide that. We were going to be able to create SEL slides, otherwise known as social, emotional learning, curriculum slides, as well as launch a buddy program, which is what we did in the winter.
These slides became mandatory for teachers to play in the last five minutes of each class. And we presented slides every other week. The buddy program is something that I’ll elaborate on a little bit later. Now going into the spring. As we enter hybrid, we still are keeping programs online. And all of our mandatory slides are no longer in classes, but instead are being shared in advisory once again, every other week.
So working with admin, I have worked with difficult admin in the past and have honestly failed a lot of projects. This is not something where I went and tried it one time and right away with super lucky. No, that is not the story at all. And as a matter of fact, we have switched admins. So I was really navigating a whole new world.
, and luckily just had a great response, but I do think there are some things to thank for that. So going off of that, there are some dues as well as some don’ts when going into these kinds of meetings with admin do plan for their concerns and think one step ahead. So when it comes to topics of mental health, there’s a lot of concerns about liability, especially when students are receiving information about another student’s mental health and the school has to be able to respond appropriately, especially if these are sensitive subjects.
So making sure that. If you are creating some sort of team that there’s adults backing you and supporting you, who are there and trained and know exactly what they’re doing that way, these types of issues don’t fall back on the school. So as I was going into this whole mental health panel and discussing things with students and creating curricul, I really wanted to make it clear that we would be prepared and we were going to have.
Steps to actually calm those concerns that admin was then expressing. It’s also important to come with facts. Do your research, get your statistics. NAMI is a really great site, , work to be well hello through OASC they have lots of good information. It’s also important to collect the needs of students.
So at our student council summer retreat, I was actually able to host a workshop. And I was just basically collecting all the needs of our student council members. What do you think. Our school needs the most in order to support mental health. What are different events that you would like to see? What is a different curriculum that you would like to see?
Are there certain stigmas that we need to work against? And also it is so important to create a team. This team, like I said before, was a group of StuCo members, which has been a really great experience. And I knew from the very beginning that I could trust them all. Another thing the admin wants to see is your willingness to work with their ideas.
It’s better to do something small than nothing at all. This is something that has happened in the past. I had one big idea shut down, but it is so, so important to keep going, because if you just give up right there, Which is one of her don’ts do not give up, then admin’s not going to see your passion.
They aren’t going to see your willingness to work. And they’re going to question working with you in the future. And if you do start out with something small, first of all, that is impacting someone which is better than no one. And second of all, you can build yourself up. Once they trust you with a small event, you can gradually get larger and larger until you’re reaching the entire school.
Another thing is to get them excited, get excited about this subject, listen to podcasts, listen to the TV and the news and just all different information and make sure that you’re showing them you’re excited and you’re showing them that you’re passionate. And the last thing is to create an introduction for yourself.
You need to have a why, why you’re doing your work, what your work is, or what you plan to be as well as goals for the future. Make sure that you’re able to give them a clear and concise message of what your panel will do and how it is going to benefit your school. These types of slides have also been used at other meetings for us, as we have presented to the County, the school district teachers, parents, and these introduction slides are always super easy and they can be used in so many different spots and are very good at communicating clearly and quickly now.
Don’t do this alone, please, please, please do not do this alone. It is way too much work for one man to do. I honestly don’t think it’s possible. And what it has come to is, as we’re creating these SEL slides and different things, people are working on different periods. They’re working on different categories for each lesson.
We also have people rotating through to host these buddy meetings that I will later talk about. All in all this isn’t something that one person can do. And it’s also important that you’re taking care of your mental health while trying to support others, mental health. And that has to do with your social interaction and making sure that you’re getting support from a team.
Lastly, do not limit your thinking. There are some big ideas that you may come up with. But it is certainly worth noting to admin. Now they aren’t always going to be a big fan of it, especially if you don’t have a plan, but if you’re projecting these goals, then they can see that this isn’t just a short-term thing.
So don’t limit your thinking. Things can end up being possible that you really thought were impossible and admin is there to help you. So if you don’t have a solution to these problems with this possible idea is very likely that they will. Moving on. I’d like to talk to you about this mentioned buddy program, which is something that I’m super proud to have created at Oregon city high school.
Basically the buddy program is a group of trained students. All of the students on our mental health panel have gone through QPR training, which is question persuade, refer training. It’s a suicide prevention program, and I believe it was about a two hour or one hour training session. , since then we have used our trained and experience our lessons, all those different things to work with other students.
So every Friday, 15 minutes after school ends, we meet with a group of students. It is welcome to all students at our school. It is posted in their Google classrooms, , shared on our OTTV or our. Oh, our high school news, I guess. And we just keep advertising it to students to come and saying, you know, you come here for games, you come here to learn, but you also come here to receive support from someone that’s your age.
Because a lot of the time it seems really daunting to receive mental health support from someone that doesn’t seem to understand you because they’re a lot older than you. And although that may be incorrect, those people can really support you. It does feel a lot nicer to have someone your age. And we are all a controlled group.
We have our training, we have someone overlooking us and we have agreed to keep all information anonymous. Of course, unless it is concerning. And in that case, we share that to our advisor or the head counselor. The other thing we do is Google classroom. Here. We have our posted resources. We have all the SEL slides that we have done and any zoom links for future buddy program meetings.
For our plans for the future, we hope to create a messaging system. This would be similar to texting to teen, but instead is within our school. And we would match those trained individuals with different attendees from our zoom meetings. So they get to choose. Hey, you know, I think I worked really well with Taylor and I would like to continue talking to her.
And the hope is that we’ll be able to use remind messages to have different, , little numbers for each leader. And those people get to text those leaders. And this will be within a certain hour range and be overlooked once again, by our counseling staff. The other thing is presentations. We are continually presenting to staff, the district, the County different programs, and we are building those connections.
We have had a lot of programs reaching out to us, offering to give us further insight and advice for operating this program. As there are many similar programs around us, but nothing like this has been done within a school district. Lastly, I just wanted to share some resources with you guys. We have all of our SEL slides you are happy to, or you can gladly take these and use them as less than samples for starting this out or just sharing with your school, possibly your stew coat or any group you would like.
We have coping mechanisms, stress relief, and self care. We usually show that before finals, the elephant in the room, otherwise known as. Mental illness, mental health, and pandemic, mental health and minorities, and adjusting to change such as going back to hybrid graduation, big tests coming up and just life altering decisions.
Lastly, if you would like to get QPR training, which is the question persuade refer, , you are happy to use this program to schedule your own training. Just click that link and hear all of the other additional resources that this program has actually provided us with. This is ways to get help. So different hotlines, culturally specific mental health resources, and just learning about learning more about the program as a whole.
And that is it. Thank you guys so much and I hope you enjoy this presentation.
Hey, my name is Taylor Hayes and I’m your OASC State President! A fun fact about me is that I just adopted a Newfoundland puppy from China.
Workshop overview: In this workshop, learn the importance of providing student input on mental health decisions, and how to navigate those difficult discussions with your admin. Creating a student mental health panel has been a big success for Oregon City High School, and it will be at your school if you follow these tips!!
You should view this workshop if… you’ve struggled to bring mental health events to your school and need guidance in getting approval by admin. Anyone who is passionate about mental health and unsure how to bring awareness will also gain from this experience.
-Have you had troubles approaching admin in the past? What could have gone better?
-How can you use Covid as a way to further your argument in bringing mental health support/ awareness to your school?
-What programs/ students would be willing to partner with you? Reach out to them for next year!!