How South helps students who are struggling


Julia Kado '24, Staff Writer

As mental health has become a prominent issue in the world, the question of how well it has been handled at South has been a hot topic.

South has five full time counselors, a licensed psychologist and a social worker. The counseling center also hosts a “chill room, ” which is a calming room with diffusers, coloring books, various sensory-appealing objects and dim lighting. This can be an escape at any time for a student who feels overwhelmed. South is very well equipped to help students who find themselves feeling overwhelmed in any mental capacity, however it is also important to allow students to feel comfortable being vulnerable to staff and administration.

“The best way to get students, staff and the community to open up is to make sure lines of communication are always available for everyone,”Assistant Principal Joseph Spryszak said. “Then, we have to assure everyone that speaking to the mental health professionals is a safe place. The information will remain confidential unless someone’s life or health is impacted by not sharing the information. Creating a safe place to get help is the first step. The next step is to make sure action takes place when items of concern are brought to the forefront. People need to know that their concerns are taken seriously.”

One of the school counselors,Beth Walsh-Sahutske, tries her best to provide good resources. Sahutske brings in her in-training therapy dog, Tuka, and sends out mental health-geared Schoology updates every Wednesday. She believes that proactively building wellness into one’s schedule prepares you for the times when you’ll need it most. Routine is key.

“Normalizing talking about mental health and the way that we are addressing mental health needs proactively,” Sahutske said.

According to school psychologist Lisa Khoury, students should alter their behavior and speech to achieve this normalization.

“We need to watch how we use our words to describe events or things and avoid assigning a derogatory term to those like ‘crazy’, ‘’wacko’ and ‘’psycho’,” Khoury said. “I feel that the media continues to portray people with mental health challenges as violent, weird and crazy, which further alienates and marginalizes them”
Clubs at South can be very beneficial to mental health. It can create friendships, boost self esteem and create a sense of unity. Melissa Petz, student activities director, thinks it’s especially important now that we’ve entered 2022.

“I strongly feel like if you want to be involved, to make either new friends, or if you just want to not feel alone– especially during these winter months when it gets a little stressful and grey, It’s a great opportunity to get involved with like-minded students and different interests.” Petz said.

As we continue to normalize our mental health, Petz mentioned it’s important to emphasize and prioritize it as greatly as we do our physical health. This is a common desire of mental health workers, who often see their patients being invalidated by media, or stereotypical beliefs, that might even dictate some sort of “snap out of it” mentality.
“I think that as students grow and develop into young adults, especially here at Grosse Pointe South, there’s so many people that are very well trained that are looking out for the best interest of students,” Petz said “All they have to know is if they’re struggling in any fashion,to reach out. If you show any interest or concern, somebody’s gonna be there to help you.”