Mental Health at MHS

Mental Health at MHS

Ashley Tomaszfski

Mental health is a very important aspect of Manville High School’s students and staff. At MHS, there are many different ways and avenues that students can go about getting the help they need. Although not all teachers are classified as mental health counselors, all teachers are willing to be there and help their students. 

At Manville High School students have Ms. Angelica Viso who is the Student Assistance Coordinator. Ms. Viso has been Counseling for 7 years in total, and 4 years at Manville High School. She has made a great connection with all students, which then helps her with understanding how to help them. 

Ms. Viso’s job is very important to her, even though it can get demanding and intense. She explains how she feels with her students every day, “This job means many things to me. Although it can be very rigorous and demanding, it also can be very heart-warming and rewarding. Some days I am busy from the start (or even before!) first period until 2:55 pm, other days I am nonchalantly having conversations about weekend plans or upcoming events. It is fulfilling to know that you can be a positive support or role model for someone, even if sometimes it does not seem that way. Planting the seed and sharing resources/positive coping skills are only a small part of the job!” 

Her main priority is to help everyone in need and hopefully be someone’s role model. When it comes to helping someone in need, as a counselor, they have to first build a relationship with the student. The counselor needs to gain the student’s trust and have them become comfortable communicating. It might take time to understand what’s going on and get the student to open up.

The counselor’s priority is to be there for the student, listen to their thoughts and needs, and ultimately help. Students are not forced to speak about anything until they are comfortable, but a trusted adult should be made aware of what is going on. When counselors do ask questions, they do that to determine what the best route of help would be for the student in need, whether that requires resources outside the school. 

Students might not always directly ask for help. A key sign Ms. Viso explains could be if a student shows a physical change in appearance or a change in behavior. For example, if a student is typically a straight-A student, and they start failing classes, that shows a change in their routine and may be a cause for concern. Additionally, if a student typically surrounds themselves with others, but they are suddenly isolating themselves, this could also be a sign. There are signs of behaviors, but a change in a student’s physical appearance could also signify they need help. For example, if a student loses their appetite or loses a significant amount of weight, this could be a sign of depression. Even if one may think someone doesn’t need help, it is best to inform a trusted adult of concerns. 

Mainly Ms. Viso specializes in mental health (anxiety, depression, bipolar, eating disorders) and Substance Use/Abuse (drugs, alcohol, e-cigs, vaping). She is not just knowledgeable in one area, Students can also discuss a range of issues like relationships, stress, coping skills, self-esteem, outside counseling referrals, etc. She really can help in any way and wants to help as much as possible. Ms. Viso is reachable by Email, Google Hangouts (chat), and Remind. Her email is [email protected], where students are able to communicate. Other counselors also have these resources available. 

It can be difficult for students to feel comfortable asking for her help, which Ms. Viso suggests, “I recommend that someone finds a trusted adult to talk with that can connect them with the resources they need. It certainly can be a scary process but once you find a counselor that you connect with, it makes the process easier to navigate. If it’s during school, ask a friend to go with you to speak with a counselor or have a parent/guardian come in and sit down together to talk about what’s going on and how at school we can help. There are so many ways that you can get connected to resources, you just have to get past the award hurtle!” 

At MHS, no matter how much you don’t want to tell someone, think about how you will help them get stronger.