Mental Health Moments provide students with improvements with their brain function

Jennifer Eisenbeis, Breaking News Editor

Work load, balancing  sports, loss of friends, family changes, employment and overwhelming responsibilities. These are some of the many things that occur in a teenager’s life and have influence on the growth and development of a teenager’s mind. Recently, FHS has hired  psychologist Susan Brunell. Her first task here is to take initiatation to reach out to all students so they feel more comfortable coming to her in a time of need. She does this by using her Mental Health Minutes, which are facts and information about how to reduce any negative effects on the brain to help it function better.

“The purpose of the Mental Health Minutes is two-fold: I want to help raise mental health awareness among students to help erase the stigma associated with mental health challenges,” Brunell said. “While also helping students realize that if they are struggling with a mental health issue, they can seek help for it. I want students to realize that they can get help, and I don’t want them to be afraid of seeking help for fear of being judged, ridiculed or ashamed.”

Brunell also started doing these moments as a response to her training though Youth Mental Health First Aid and also because of a recent death of one of her family members

“As a school psychologist, I work with such a small population of the student body; yet, mental health issues are on the rise across the country,” Brunell said. “I wanted to put my training as a psychologist to work in a more effective way in order to reach the larger student population.”

There is a variety of different kinds of facts in these moments and they also come from different sources as well.

“The Mental Health Minutes are drawn from a variety of sources, statistics found from the CDC, National Institute for Mental Health, Child Mind Institute, and a variety of journals and research articles,” Brunell said. “I try to share statistics that I think are relevant to students and the issues they may be facing today.”

Brunell is hoping that these moments will help students reach out to her about what they are going though.

“This a way to hopefully get kids to recognize their emotional state, and find the courage to reach out before it becomes a crisis,” Brunell said. “Often, students are afraid to speak up, feel ashamed for feeling this way, or simply don’t know how to start the conversation with their parent.  I can help start that conversation.”

She also wants to be able to identify any conditions going on in a student’s mind before any possible illness may become present or if present, more severe.

“Adolescence is a time of development, but also one of vulnerability; statistics show that half of all people who develop a mental illness experience their first episode before the age of 14,” Brunell said. “Statistics also show that it takes on average 10 years after the onset of the illness for a person to seek treatment. The earlier a person seeks help for their mental health challenges, which we all have had at one time or another, the better the long-term outcome.”
Brunell works on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and can be found in her office by the counseling office. Students must fill out a request form to be able to schedule an appointment.