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Stagg Online

Home of the Delta Kings

Stagg Online

Stagg High’s Group Counseling Approach to Students’ Mental Health

(Informative posters on anxiety, release techniques, and healing adorn a board at the Calming Room, offering students a beacon of hope and help. Learn effective strategies to release tension and embark on a journey toward healing and emotional resilience. Angelina Miranda / Stagg Online)

Stagg High School has taken a big step to help its students feel better and tackle tough times by teaming up with a local agency, Parents by Choice. This partnership has brought a special program and services to the school where students can join group counseling sessions as a safe place for students to talk about what’s on their mind, find ways to deal with stress, anxiety, grief, anger, women empowerment and issues specific to being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. As of Fall 2023, the counseling services has 5 groups – Anxiety, LGBTQIA+, Women Empowerment, Grief, and Anger Management. These groups meet once a week on Wednesdays with different schedules per group in a 10 week cycle.

The group counseling program is designed with simplicity and effectiveness in mind. The sessions are facilitated by skilled counselors who create a warm and welcoming atmosphere, encouraging students to express themselves freely. These professionals are adept at steering the conversation in a constructive direction, ensuring that each voice is heard and valued.

Amanda Crusos, the supervisor of Parents by Choice Agency and a clinical social worker, plays a pivotal role in the partnership with SUSD, fostering a collaborative approach to student welfare. “We offer individual rehab groups and that looks like running a group service for skill building and coping strategies. It is not counseling or therapy, rather a group service to help students relate to one another,” Crusos said. 

“Although it does interfere with class hours, if you’re able to help your mental health first and foremost, you’re going to function better in class, pay attention, and focus better,” Crusos added. 

Not only is the agency partnered with Stagg High but also to three more different schools such as Chavez, Edison, and Franklin. The synergy between the schools and the agency under Crusos’s supervision is a testament to their collective dedication to nurturing not just academics, but also the emotional and social growth of students within the community.

Within the walls of Stagg High’s Wellness Center, a beacon of support shines brightly for students navigating the complexities of adolescence. The wellness center’s coordinator, Bibiana Cervantes emphasizes the holistic approach taken to student well-being. “Mental health is very much needed especially here at Stagg High School and we should do more to support the mental health of the students,” Cervantes shared. 

(The calming room in the Wellness center invites students to sit, share, and find solace together. This tranquil space is essential, providing a sanctuary for stress relief and mental clarity. Angelina Miranda / Stagg Online)

“I would advise the students to at least try [attending counseling], there is no growth in being comfortable in where you are. So you have to get a little uncomfortable if you want to improve your social skills, the way you react to certain situations,”  Cervantes advised, “We are also very approachable and easy to talk to,”  Cervantes added.

Mayra Mancia, who previously served as a Social Worker at the San Joaquin County at the CPS Department and currently teaches as a substitute teacher, brought her knowledge and expertise with the mental health of kids here at Stagg High. “It is a great resource that students should take advantage of to help you understand some things that you are dealing with. Maybe you’re facing some challenges and you need to talk to somebody about it,” Mancia said. She further explained that seeking counseling and help is a good thing and this will help students’ mental health. 

“Be open about it, it’s always a good thing. I know that it is not always an easy thing and sometimes people might look at seeking counseling as a negative thing but it really is just talking to somebody, learning new skills, gaining awareness, and understanding,” Mancia added.

Understanding the significance of mental health is crucial for the development and success of students at Stagg High. Mental health encompasses an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being, affecting how one thinks, feels, and acts. It also helps determine how one handles stress, relates to others, and makes choices.

 For adolescents who are in a critical period of growth and self-discovery, maintaining good mental health is essential for navigating the challenges of high school life. Good mental health lays the foundation for learning, forming relationships, and building self-confidence. When students are mentally healthy, they have a better chance of realizing their full potential, coping with the stresses of life, and making meaningful contributions to their community. 

By prioritizing mental health through initiatives like group counseling, Stagg High is not only addressing immediate concerns but also investing in the long term resilience and happiness of its students.

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