By Alayna Smith
After a long quarantine and a rapid decline in the overall mental health and wellness of adolescents worldwide, schools across California are finally taking huge steps towards bettering their academic environment. The most notable being the implication of a wellness center on many school campuses, including our own, that is available to students during school hours.
The wellness center at BHS is run by Ms. Lynn, who has been here since the beginning of the school year, working to finalize the wellness center before it officially opened to students in October of 2022. In an interview with Ms. Lynn, She described the wellness center as having been “a dream for mental health professionals that is finally possible.” Throughout the school day, students can go into the wellness center to take a break whether it be during lunch, passing period, or even in class (as long as they have the teacher’s permission of course).
The wellness center is located in the A-Wing near the teacher’s parking lot. What used to be an empty classroom has been converted into a comfortable, atmospheric environment including gentle lighting, an aroma infuzer giving the room a calming scent, and soft music playing in the background. There are also a variety of activities that students can do from drawing, painting, yoga, or even working if students need to do so in a place other than the classroom.
But why a wellness center? With so many programs being created all at seemingly the same time, the wellness center was the main program to make the cut, bringing about an environment in school that students describe as, “calming and a great place to relax.” While it may not seem apparent at first glance, students report that having an environment where they can go to get away from class while they are having a crisis or just need time to themselves, makes the school a far more welcoming environment. Students are far more open to returning to school and being more productive in class when they know that, should they need it, the school now offers a place for them to go if they need to get away.
As of summer of 2021, nearly all Benicia schools from elementary to high school have implemented a wellness center accessible to students on campus. Here at Benicia High, Ms. Lynn gets over a hundred students a day but she always has her door open to more.