Glynn Academy event brings attention to students' mental health

Students this school year are being asked to handle new stresses while continuing to meet academic and extracurricular expectations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has many learning from home in a virtual setting or following a long list of new procedures and precautions while in school to prevent contracting or exposing others to the virus.

Few would be surprised to learn that depression and anxiety are on the rise among students.

Counselors at Glynn Academy are seeing this trend, and on Wednesday, organized their annual event for Suicide Prevention Month, observed during September. This year’s celebration is especially relevant.

Mary Belechak, a counselor at Glynn Academy, uses the website of the nonprofit “To Write Love on Her Arms” to find resources to support her students.

“That’s where we get our ideas and themes ... It’s just a good resource for me for any kids suffering from depression or anxiety, which is pretty prevalent right now,” Belechak said.

The theme for Glynn Academy’s event was #WorthLivingFor. Students spread the message through positive affirmations written on cards and drawn with chalk on the Mansfield Street pavement.

Glynn Academy counselors have seen students struggling with returning to the school routine following the extended period in which schools were closed due to COVID-19 risks. Others are struggling to adjust to the virtual learning platforms they’re using at home.

“Even some teachers are overwhelmed, adults are overwhelmed,” Belechak said. “It’s still an unprecedented time. It’s still kind of crazy, so we’re trying to remind people that there are good things.”

The event was hosted outside during the high school’s four lunch periods.

Many students now eat lunch outside, where they’re able to socially distance more easily than in the cafeteria. They had the opportunity at the event to sing along to positive songs using a karaoke machine.

Daija Chatman, a freshman, took the microphone for a moment to sing along. She said afterward that the event’s message was important for students to hear.

“Everyone is worth something, and no one should feel like they’re worth nothing,” she said. “This is just a really good message to get out.”