Wilson’s myriad of mental health services

Natalie Gordon and Hannah Lahey

Between virtual classes, piles of homework, and limited social interaction, high school in a pandemic sucks, and struggling with mental health alone can be daunting. Wilson has a lot of mental health resources to help students feel less alone.

During the pandemic, teenagers are no longer able to have sufficient social interactions. “[They] abruptly stopped, activities were just suddenly removed and everyone is like, you’ll be okay, but no sometimes you’re not okay,” says 12th grade social worker, Ms. Mathis.

Mathis is one of the staff members of Wilson’s mental health team. The team consists of  five Licensed Clinical Social Workers, eight Counselors, a Clinical Psychologist from the Department of Behavioral Health and a Licensed Graduate Social Worker from (LAYC), a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA), and occasionally the School Nurse and the School Psychologists.  

The team meets every two weeks to discuss and decide how to help students who are struggling in school or experiencing various emotional, social, academic, or behavioral concerns. 

Aside from participating in the Team meetings, 10th Grade Social Worker Ms. Wilson and DBH Clinical Psychologist Dr. Arrington lead a mindfulness group on Mondays at 9am.  “Mindfulness is a coping tool that really helps you be present in the moment and taking notice of your environment by engaging and noticing one or more of your five senses,” says Mathis.

There are also several other groups students can attend like ‘Love is Not Abuse’, a group for 9th and 10th grade girls which discusses the characteristics of a healthy relationship and how to recognize signs of abuse. Wilson also offers LGBTQIA support groups for members of the community and allies as well as a group for boys that focuses on building social and leadership skills in addition to a few groups. Students should contact their grade level Social Worker for more information if interested. 

The mental health team offers many workshops, such as the two upcoming Executive Functioning and managing Anxiety events. Programs and workshops are also held for staff and parents too. “We kind of do a little bit of everything,” Mathis said.

It’s not a surprise that all meetings and programs are virtual this year, and many students didn’t feel comfortable turning on their cameras. According to Ms. Mathis. “I remember when I was meeting with students online in February and early March of last year my ask at that time was that students turned their cameras on. But by April, I realized that it wasn’t necessary.” 

“I don’t even ask students who are meeting with me to turn on their camera because one of the things I realized was that I may not be able to visually see you but it forces me to listen that much more. I can hear the hesitancy in people’s voice, the pause, you kind of pick up on a lot of different things,” Mathis said. 

She adds that meeting virtually is actually more comfortable for some students because they can meet in the privacy of their own home and without having to physically walk into her office for help. On the other hand, it’s harder for some students to get in touch with her. Normally in the building, kids could just walk into her office, so creating virtual resources applicable for students presently has been a challenge. 

DCPS has tried to overcome the virtual barrier, supported by the Mental Health Team, through offering short, confidential forms to Wilson students, parents, and teachers. Students will receive a response and have the opportunity to follow up with a private meeting. Students can also email social workers or counselors directly with mental health concerns. 

“We know that the pandemic is affecting people, we know that kids are feeling depressed and anxious; we know that people are grieving for loved ones they’ve lost,” Mathis says,“but you can walk into any DCPS school and ask about their mental health team and they will instantly help you.”


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