How BVSD Wellness Centers support student resilience
A safe space to spend your off-period, a refuge during an anxiety attack, a place to connect with your friends – these are just a few of the reasons students are visiting Wellness Centers across Boulder Valley School District.
BVSD created its first Wellness Center at Monarch High School in response to the Marshall Fire. When we saw the impact the Wellness Center had on their school community we committed to opening five more and sustaining the one at Monarch. Impact on Education funding is now supporting six high school Wellness Centers at Boulder High, Centaurus High, Fairview High, Monarch High, Nederland Middle-Senior and New Vista High.
One month into the school year, over 1,000 students have made over 2,320 visits to BVSD Wellness Centers to relax, refocus and seek support.
In 2021, 42 percent of high school students reported feeling so sad or hopeless regularly for at least a two-week period that they stopped doing their normal daily activities.– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What is a Wellness Center?
The Wellness Centers are welcoming and calming spaces with soft lighting and relaxing music. They are filled with flexible, comfortable seating and sensory activities like fidget toys, puzzles and kinetic sand. Each Wellness Center also offers free tea for students, courtesy of The Tea Spot.
But the most important part of each Wellness Center is the mental health professional, a Mental Health Advocate, there to support each student who walks through the door.
One Mental Health Advocate described their Wellness Center as “a cozy cafe,” while students shared that they like “the vibe” and having a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of their school.
“Students have shared that it feels special to them. They are torn between telling everyone how awesome it feels to relax in the room and wanting to keep it a secret.”– Mental Health Advocate, BVSD Wellness Center
The goal of the Wellness Centers is to provide students with accessible, safe spaces on school campuses that offer mental health support and promote social-emotional wellness. Students are able to visit the Wellness Center anytime during the school day to rest and recharge, connect with their peers, or talk with a trusted mental health professional.
How Wellness Centers are impacting school communities
The Mental Health Advocates leading BVSD Wellness Centers say they’ve been surprised and excited by students’ willingness to share and open up when they are in a crisis. One was also surprised by the reactions of their school staff, sharing that “so many teachers have reached out to tell me they appreciate having a safe place to send students instead of them going home or disappearing to the bathroom.”
We asked the Mental Health Advocates why students have been visiting and it was commonly to:
- Talk about anxiety they’re experiencing
- Get a cup of a tea
- Work through group conflicts
- Calm down after panic attacks
- Feel seen
And often, while a student may start visiting for one reason, they continue going for another. One student who started visiting because it was a safe place to spend her off period, was eventually comfortable opening up about a difficult personal experience she was going through.
Students need support to manage their emotional health. The Mental Health Advocates can help teach them how, while the Wellness Centers give them the space to do so.
“We’re funding these Wellness Centers across Boulder Valley School District because we believe they’re powerful tools for supporting our youth and helping them thrive.”– Allison Billings, Executive Director of Impact on Education
Reducing the stigma of mental health
So far this school year thousands of students have already visited BVSD Wellness Centers and schools will continue to build awareness of these new spaces in their school communities. The next step for Impact on Education is to supplement the Wellness Centers with meaningful opportunities for parents to engage and gain tools and resources to support their students at home.
BEFORE YOU GO …
Impact on Education is a nonprofit organization, and we depend on our community to help us put our mission into action. We need your help to to provide opportunity and resources to 30,000 students and 4,000 educators of the Boulder Valley School District.