Written by students, for students.
The official newspaper of Crescent Valley High School.
Oregon’s congress has passed a law allowing Oregonian students to take ‘mental health days’ as excused absences. With this new law comes a new opportunity to reflect on the mental health of our country, our state, and our school, and how that can be improved to better people’s lives. (Below at right: some of the student activists that helped to pass the law).
Oregon, as it turns out, is one of the worst states in the country for mental health. In fact, it is the worst. A study in 2017 by Mental Health America found that Oregonians’ mental health is the lowest in the nation. Some large factors in that ranking include Oregon’s high numbers of homelessness and child abuse, and a lower percentage of high school graduation. Oregon also has the highest prevalence of mental illness in the nation, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. On top of that, the psychiatrists and therapists of Oregon are paid so little that there’s minimal incentive to practice, and the few that do practice have an overabundance of patients and little to no room for new clients. Insurance and cost can also affect mental health care: affordability and lack of access are the leading reasons that people can’t meet their needs for mental health services, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health in 2018. The public education system is one of the ways that kids can seek the care they need - but that’s not perfect, either. The Corvallis School District is changing the way it approaches mental health; it's removing private contractors, hiring more counselors, and appropriating more funds to the issue, including from the money coming in from the recent bond and the Student Success Act.
Here at Crescent Valley, people have many varying perspectives on mental health and what can be done to improve. The Crier asked several people with various roles around CV about their ideas and views on these topics and how things could be improved in our district.
“Our district is one of the few in our state that has a mental health coordinator, and which has made it a huge priority, and that’s been led largely by our counselors. It’s definitely a priority for our district going forward.”
- Mr. Strowbridge
“Staff this summer underwent training for mental health and care, and there’s been talk among staff about it as well. Our district has been making it a priority, for sure, and we have some proactive measures in place with multiple counselors and staff training. Mental health is definitely important for our district.” - Ms. Stone
“Advertising what resources and rights people have would be good, and I think that would make students more aware - of the mental health days, et cetera.” - Trevor Adams, ASB co-president
“I believe the district should invest heavily in mental health resources at the elementary and middle school level. I know we have needs that need to be addressed at the high school level, but if we can address student’s needs when they’re younger, they’ll be better equipped to deal with stressors as they get older as well.”
- Mr. Stair
“The district could work to be more proactive in teaching all students how to take care of their mental health, so they don’t need to have those services. It should be just as important as Algebra 1 for students. I agree with Mr. Stair: it starts even in kindergarten, when kids are learning how to cope with things that come up in their lives. That is being addressed - 10 years ago, we only had 2 elementary school counselors in the district, and now we have 8.” - Robbie Cox, counselor
“I really think we need mental health-specific counselors. I personally feel that I have a strong understanding of mental health, but I think I’m in the minority there. There needs to be a greater push for better teacher training on mental health.” - Mr. Perley
“Our school district largely thinks of mental illness as a trophy cause, by doing awareness activities and patronizing the issue. The students who are really suffering feel that they’re unable to speak up, and teachers in classrooms aren’t as prepared to respond to mental illness in the classroom. It’s used as a reason for awareness or an activity day, but not enough is being actually done.” - Juliah Lyon
“We have extensive mental health resources at OSU, but they’re not really utilized by a majority of students on campus. Personally, I think that our advisors and counselors could receive training in mental health, to allow to mitigation and prevention instead of a reactive strategy... Freshman on campus, especially, are dealing with making decisions for some of the first times in their lives, and that can also be stressful... Stress is one of the major factors in high suicide rates, and stress about performance and grades definitely contributes to that. All of those things are problems at the high school level as well.” - Mr. Kelly, student teacher and OSU student
Major sources can be accessed at these sites:
There are many emergency resources available to anyone in crisis.
Listed below are just a few.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255, or go to https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org for more resources.
Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741741 for a text conversation with a trained crisis counselor.
The Trevor Project Hotline: Call 1-866-488-7386 or go to https://www.thetrevorproject.org for a text chat and other resources. The Trevor Project is dedicated largely to preventing suicide in the LGBTQ+ community, which has far higher rates of suicide than other demographics.
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) Hotline: 1-800-662-4357. This line will give you information about mental health services and treatment in your area - it’s not a crisis line, but can help put you in touch with resources.
Our CV counselors are also great resources, and can help you get other services if needed as well.
- Kate Voltz