Knowing their options: McNary holds freshmen mental wellness fair

Sometimes help is just around the corner, you just have to know where to look. And on Monday, McNary High School’s counseling invited the 560 freshmen to know where to look for help when they held McNary’s first Freshmen Well-Being Fair along with various providers in the area.

“I didn’t even know Emerging Unidos existed, and I’m a school counselor, so imagine how many resources some of these students aren’t even aware of in our community or right next door that they can utilize,” McNary counselor Leah Anderson said. “And so we’re hoping from this event, students can either sign up for groups or at least get some information so they can go seek help if they really need it.”

There were 16 providers from the community, as well as five on-campus resources and groups represented.

Among those from the community were Liberty House, Marion County/Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition, New Perspectives and Trillium.

McNary grad coaches, the newly developed calm room and sources of strength club, and the latino and yoga clubs were there for internal resources.

The fair was paired with other mental wellness lessons the freshmen received in their counseling classes. According to McNary assistant principal Heidi Tavares, they stressed to the students that while they may not need these resources today or this week, they should know about them and how to access them before they need to.

And the decision to focus on the freshmen class was an easy one.

“The younger for us, the better,” Anderson said. “We really want to start doing preventative work, we want to do less reactive work. A lot of time as school counselors we’re running day to day just kind of taking care of crises. We want to get to students earlier so they become more aware of what resources are available to them so they can reach out for help and minimize more serious either suicidality or mental health concerns later on.”