By Anna Marukhnyak
High School is seen as a time of great change, turbulence, and trouble for many teens. In a competitive, large school such as Brooklyn Tech especially, it’s easy to feel alone among peers. Competition, pressure for high grades, poor sleep schedules, and trouble finding friends can all contribute to mental illness in students, even more so during a time as fragile as adolescence. Tech attempts to offer support for these at-risk students, by offering counseling, on-site psychologists, a required test in Health to determine and other resources to aid students who need help. However, some argue that Tech’s current practices aren’t enough to help students that are mentally ill or even simply struggling in school. When asked if Tech offers sufficient mental health resources for students, and if mental illness is respected within Tech, students generally acknowledged the resources Tech offers but called for increased support.
Paige Vincent, ’18 “One of my friends was reported for depression and suicidal thoughts so they went to the guidance counselor, told them they were fine, and they were never called back, so I don’t think they handle it well at all. Tech doesn’t have the resources they should to help and they don’t follow up with students to make sure they’re okay.”
Fatma Labeb, ’18 “Tech does not provide a safe enough space for kids at school suffering. For instance, when they gave us that ‘anonymous’ test in Health it in fact made students retreat from being open about their mental state. Pushing it down our throats will just push it farther into our stomachs.”
Kaitlyn Cao, ’18 “I know that Tech has mental health resources such as Mindful Mondays but I would disagree that Tech handles mental illness with enough respect. That’s partially because of how large of a student population there is. However, guidance counselors, who are supposed to help students are not helping. There’s not enough respect and, from my experience, they’ve been unnecessarily rude.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s important to bring up the resources that Tech does have for students who are having any type of issues. Students are welcome to talk to any of their teachers, as well as their guidance counselor about any trouble they are having in school, and in addition, any accommodations teachers can make to assist them. In addition, specific counselors such as Ms. Ramona, SPARK Counselor, or Mr. Lulov, Social Worker, are able to assist any student as well. Specific changes are being made in Brooklyn Tech as well to continue to aid mentally ill students. Tanisha Mahmud ’18, a member on the Student Action Board, discussed ideas brought up during meetings to provide more support to mentally ill or at-risk students. “As of right now, I don’t think Tech has enough resources that are widely acknowledged to help mentally ill kids, but Action Board is a huge step the school took this semester to begin the process of making Tech a more welcoming and less stressful environment: We’re working on things like getting elevator passes for people with anxiety, claustrophobia, or anything of the like as long as they can provide a note from their psychiatrist, we’re implementing important resources and tips into the daily announcements for next year, we’re informing teachers more about mental illnesses and warning signs of suicide and maybe as soon as June, there will be a poster mandatory for all classrooms to hang up with important mental health resources in Tech. For example, the poster will have the contact information of Mr. Hoftyzer and Mr. Kaelin as well as the bully box and Ms. Nottingham. There are a bunch of people in the building whose job is specialized in helping students with mental health issues, and more students need to know about the resources available to them.”
It is important for students who feel that they may be mentally ill or even simply need support to reach out to anyone, from their family to a staff member. If more attention is brought to the topic of mental illness in Brooklyn Tech, everyone will benefit.