Stop claiming to care about mental health while taking advantage of Wellness Center privileges

February 4, 2022 — by Apurva Chakravarthy
The space was created with the intention of providing a calm environment for students to de-stress and collect their thoughts, not an area for students to ditch class.

The Wellness Center, a mental health resource established in the heart of the campus in 2019, aims to provide a safe, calming and supportive space for students. Students have the ability to tell their teacher they are leaving to go to the Wellness Center and stay until they need to calm down before returning to class. 

Theoretically, this seems like a great solution — one the school wanted and desperately needed given the meltdowns that occur inside the academic and social pressure cooker here. Most teachers are extremely understanding about their students leaving, and encourage them to take mental-health breaks as needed. And most of the time, the Wellness Center is used as intended: A student checks in, spends around 20 minutes collecting themselves and then goes back to class feeling more ready to learn. 

But there are instances where the privileges are being abused. Teachers and administrators are growing increasingly frustrated at the number of students who leave class to go to the Wellness Center, and instead hang out with friends in the Student Center or leave campus.

Even though the Wellness Center now requires visitors to sign in, it’s still easy to sign in, stay for a short period of time and leave to do something else. Ultimately, the system is based on an honor code. 

The more people who abuse the Wellness Center as an excuse to get out of class, the quicker the administration will be to remove the privilege altogether, eliminating this resource that so many students actually need.

The fact that there is a high possibility of it happening right now is infuriating.

Students constantly complain about the school’s disregard for mental health. When it’s time for Speak Up For Change week, they grumble that one week of assemblies, club meetings and activities in the quad won’t fix the systemic issues that create stress for students. When the AP Physics C course was introduced this school year, some said that adding another unnecessary AP class would do nothing but pressure college-obsessed upperclassmen to add another stressful class to their workload. 

In these situations, students were absolutely right to critique the system and push for even more mental health resources. But now, we’ve been offered a resource that has accomplished worthy goals. A place solely dedicated for students’ wellness. A place where students are trusted enough to judge for themselves how much personal time they need to take.

If you’re telling teachers that you’re going to the Wellness Center because you actually need it, then go. But if you realize you don’t actually need time for yourself or are tempted to just leave class for other reasons, don’t ruin the opportunity for those who actually use the Wellness Center for its intended purpose — just stay in class and preserve this important resource for those who need it.

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