Presentations address student mental health

By Rachel Davis and Cyanne Esguerra

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Counselors will be visiting all English 9 classes on Nov. 14 to present suicide prevention information. While this presentation has been done for the past several years, there are some notable changes. This year, the video for the annual presentation has been completely remade.  The newly produced video was reviewed and approved by the entire counseling department earlier this month.

According to counselor Bradley Serka, the purpose of the presentation is to allow students to reach out to the counseling department about any issues they may be facing concerning mental health, suicide or worries they have for their peers.

“We want to show a video and give a survey to emphasize that [students] can talk to anyone about their problems,” Serka said.

This year’s presentation includes a small note from the counselors followed by a 25 minute updated video. Serka plans to emphasize the importance of talking to other people, whether they are a family, friends or other students.

We want to show a video and give a survey to emphasize that [students] can talk to anyone about their problems.”

— Bradley Serka

“I want to let students know that they can reach out,” he said. Often, students can feel overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts because they do not reach out to their peers or loved ones. However, counselors have found that students do seem to be more open to talking about their feelings online as a result of being able to hide behind a screen.

Serka said he feels technology adds a new factor to these issues that wasn’t available in years past.

“Students see things online and reflect it onto themselves, which can lead to lower self-esteem and conflicting thoughts, but the advancement of technology has also allowed more people around the world to communicate freely about their issues,” he said.

For Serka, the suicide prevention conversation is personally important, having lost a student to suicide in the past. In giving this presentation to freshmen, he wants to encourage students to talk to adults, peers and loved ones if they ever experience suicidal thoughts.

“What students don’t know is that it’s okay to be depressed once in a while,” Serka said.

The counseling department urges anyone experiencing mental health issues or thoughts about suicide to contact the National Suicide Prevention hotline, which can be reached at 800-273-8255. The Terrace counseling staff said that they are also committed to working with students through mental health concerns in whatever way they can.