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The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont

Common Ground

Students Helping Students: Harwood’s Wellness Center

Photo Credit: Caroline Carst
Will Burks, member of the YEWS, staffing the Wellness Center on Tuesday, December 12th.

Equipped with comfortable seating, a relaxing fountain, sensory toys, a tea station, books, and many other resources, the Wellness Center at Harwood Union High School is a place for students to go if they are feeling stressed or need a mental reset. In the past, the Wellness Center has been run by teachers and counselors. Starting new this year, the Wellness Center is primarily staffed by students and is in the works to be fully student-run by this upcoming semester.

Why was the Wellness Center established?

Along with many schools across the country, Harwood wanted to improve student safety to reduce the potential for violence on school grounds. While other schools focused more on physical safety, such as the installation of metal detectors or hiring security guards, Harwood took a different approach.

With the belief that mental health is an underlying problem when it comes to school violence, Harwood decided to prioritize students’ mental safety so they could have a safe space to go whenever they needed a break. This resulted in the Wellness Center being established in the Fall of 2020.

Why might someone come to the Wellness Center?

There are many reasons a student might decide to come to the Wellness Center. “Sometimes if you’re stressed or anxious, it’s a good idea to come here and just take a break to reset completely,” says YEWs club member, Will Burks. “The point is for them to be in a better space to learn. If your brain is taken up with anxiety and stress, it’s not going to be able to engage in your academics fully.”

Reports have shown that being stressed can severely affect your learning leading to more severe issues, such as overwhelming anxiety, depression, lack of motivation, etc. Having a place in school where you can reset your brain is crucial. According to a study by JAMA Network, “People with elevated stress levels may have worsened cognitive function, affecting their memory, concentration, and ability to learn.”

Why is the Wellness Center important to Harwood?

There is no denying that, in Vermont, the winter days are extremely cold and dark. Those conditions can lead to seasonal depression for many people, including students. Therefore, during this gloomy time of year, students should have a safe and comfortable place to go.

The Wellness Center is used the most in the colder months which shows just how important this resource is for student’s mental health and well-being. “The Wellness Centers’ busiest time of the year is in the winter when people are experiencing seasonal depression or the ‘winter Blues’.” says the President of the YEWs club Mae Murphy.

Wellness Center Staff

It is also important to note that the Wellness Center is always staffed during open hours, and staff members are excellent resources. Each staff member has taken the Mental Health First Aid Training Course which provides them with crucial skills in how to handle issues related to mental health.

If you are experiencing seasonal depression, stress, anxiety, sadness, trouble with focus, loneliness, or any other mental health issues, don’t hesitate to make use of the Wellness Center. Even if you simply need a place to sit quietly and relax. This wonderful resource provides support to all students in need, without judgment.

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