By: Sarah Chang
I would like to share my thoughts about students’ wellness at Gunn. All of this is solely based on my personal experience and is not written to denounce or condemn anyone in any way shape or form. Personally, I was struck by how I “am not struggling enough” and “should not be stressed” compared to others taking much more challenging classes. I couldn’t ever canonically open up about my mental health issues to my friends, teachers, or family because I knew more people have been going through even more difficult times. I was constantly putting my mental health on a checklist to see if I apply to all the struggles that other students go through. I was wearied by my persistent thoughts of self-hatred and self-doubt. I did not know how to deal with them, I did not want to deal with them, and I was distraught by how I was “locked up” in this school. I was often taught to cope with my stress by getting help from parents or guardians and sleeping early. It is true that sleep is an important factor in our well-being, however, there are many more factors that affect our well-being other than lack of sleep. It is different for everyone and sometimes getting parental help makes it worse. In my opinion, at Gunn, resources are just thrown at students with not much information and somehow students are expected to resolve their problems by simply getting help at school. Many students including myself fear to talk about mental health because it may offend some. Instead of developing scenarios that teach us “what to do when someone is dealing with depression”, there should be a better understanding of emotional conflicts such as guilt, regret, anxiety, resentment, sadness, anger, shame, and all the negative emotions we’re constantly drowning in. From time to time, these emotions are unavoidable but can be detached temporarily. Recovering from emotional distress is a long, sometimes irreversible process and should be handled as a serious issue in all.
Gunn High School is a very inclusive school with great teachers, students, counselors, and staff. Many staff members are approachable and understandable; however, many students are still struggling with improving their well-being in terms of being satisfied with themselves and maintaining good physical, cognitive, and mental health. Gunn is an extremely competitive community where there are no days when students would not talk about their workload or stress levels (certainly my point of view). It’s quite the norm for students to joke about depression, anxiety, and suicide. Although its awareness is relatively high, many students speak up about the importance of mental health, the resources at Gunn are yet to be competent and actually helpful. According to “Gunn Confessions”, an online Facebook page, students find refuge in the anonymity and honesty in responses more helpful than the actual school itself. Despite the informality of the Facebook page, it does play a key role by being flexible and providing an environment where students feel comfortable and related to each other. I believe this says a lot about the current “SELF” system. It is certainly disappointing to see how different each of the SELF classes are because some say how they feel trapped in their class while others are much more relaxed and supported by their classmates. I know that I have no say in demanding a change or removal, but I genuinely hope my concern gets heard.