Students at Lompoc High have a new place to turn for help with stress and other life issues.
Students and staff celebrated the grand opening of a new wellness center at Lompoc High School on Tuesday.
The center is intended to provide students with a place to relax while raising awareness about mental health.
This isn’t a typical school counselor’s office, and it’s more than just a Zen room.
The new wellness center aims to help students relax, talk about their problems and achieve academic success.
“I just think the world we live in has created more angst and anxiety in kids,” said Lompoc High School Principal Celeste Pico.
The center is staffed with counselors focused solely on mental health as well as social and emotional well-being.
“We teach social and emotional learning in the classroom there. There are lots of good things designed to relax and a safe space for children to be calm and accepted for who they are,” said school counselor Carla Montes.
The center offers individual counseling as well as group classes on anxiety, stress and anger management, as well as self-esteem and much more.
“The topic of managing anxiety and stress compared to the rest of the groups is the most popular. We have the most students in those groups, which shows we have a lot of anxious kids, a lot of stressed kids,” Montes said.
Administration officials say the students are learning skills that will help them well into adulthood.
“They learn coping skills. If you come into this room you will see that there are corners where they can paint, there are places where they can just sit and draw,” Pico said.
Counselors on site say they wish they had resources like this when they were in high school.
“When I was in high school, my anxiety was so high, but I struggled with it silently,” Montes said. “I think it’s amazing because I grew up in this neighborhood too and I would have liked something like this growing up, I think it’s so needed.”
Lompoc High School principal says mental health issues aren’t new – they’re just being talked about now.
“I think it’s always been there, it just hasn’t been front and center and now we recognize that need,” she said.
There are two counselors specifically assigned to the wellness center.