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SBHS Wellness Center is Open!

October was Mental Health Awareness month! As we make our way through the school year and settle back into the regular routines of our busy schedules, sometimes it’s hard to sit back and remember what’s going on behind the scenes. How we are feeling on the inside, our mental health, and our overall well-being as high schoolers are all things that can easily be clouded by other stressors such as upcoming tests, sports games, and any other aspect of our busy teenage agendas. Especially during the school year, it is incredibly important to check in with ourselves and make sure we are mentally stable enough to fully show up for the many events, assignments, and people in our everyday lives. Here on campus, an important resource that has been made available to aid our mental health is the SBHS Student Wellness Center. 

Located in room 210A, in the hall that is perpendicular to the senior lawn and the main hall, the Wellness Centers’ main goal is to act as an “intervention” for the mental needs of students and staff alike. They are able to connect you personally with a therapist or simply give you a space away from day-to-day strains. The space is open for students every day from 7:35 am-3:35 pm and is run by Vanessa Ortiz.  “Mental health is something that is going around with a lot of teenagers recently, especially because we are finally post-covid… We need to hear the needs of the current generation that we are surrounded by and aid appropriately,” she says. Coming out of a global pandemic, Ortiz highlights the center’s availability as a “safe space” for students to rest while still being at school instead of the alternative of returning home.“Students need to be able to maintain their academics while going through all these social/emotional situations.”   As she prioritizes the center’s accessibility and regards it as a physical resort on campus, she also calls attention to the system of social-emotional learning curriculum. This teaches students a “cell system” of the following points: “Be Aware and Regulate your feelings”, “Motivate Yourself”, “Have Empathy for Others”, and “Have Better Control of Your Relationships”.  Under a code of social/emotional well-being, all of these points are crucial to our own understanding of the mental changes we undergo throughout the year.  

We recognize the Wellness Center’s values, especially during the tough times of this season. As October is mental health awareness month, it is just as important to be aware of any mental changes or differences you feel as well as the leaves changing colors and our tank tops changing to sweaters. If you or anyone around you is facing challenges on the inside, head over to the center and self described, the “concierge” of the process, Vanessa Ortiz will always be available at your service. With the intent of providing help to all students, she is there to examine, “What needs you need,” which will help determine what approach to your mental health will work best for you. Whether that is contacting a therapist on campus or off, if you are feeling hopeless or truly unsure of where or who to turn to with your feelings, The Wellness Center’s door is always open. 

[Image Credit: Vanessa Ortiz]


  • Harlow Pennington

    Harlow is currently a senior at Santa Barbara High School. She serves as The Magazine and Features Editor for The Forge. She enjoys writing and drawing in addition to overseeing her sections and is an active participant in the Vada arts program. She anticipates continuing to make her mark in the forge alongside her peers and members of the Forge.

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