After recent threat, mental health comes to mind

More stories from Bethany Sanders

Dear Mrs. Schickel
May 26, 2016

Today, the importance of a student’s attendance and their emotional safety or stability, is far more important than it used to be because of the threats that the schools in our country face on a daily basis. Riverbend High School was in the media this year because of a threat towards our school.  CNN and many others aired the threat we faced; this drew a lot of attention.  Following this, fear and anxiety prevented students from coming to school during the days after the threat.  Deputy Dibella said, “Before they (the students) start assuming everything they hear to be the truth actually get answers from somebody who would have them:  the administration or myself on those topics.  That really would have prevented a lot of anxiety that a lot of our faculty, and our staff, and our students had.”

The fear of students can cause more of a mess than need be applied, but it’s not a surprise to administrators that this was an issue at all.  RHS Principal Dr. Troy Wright said, “I think mental health has become a big part of what we do.  We do all we can considering a school counselor doesn’t go to college for mental health cases.  So we spend a lot of time, all of us: administration, counseling, teachers, counseling kids who are dealing with mental health issues.”  Beyond this, Dr. Wright explained how ten years ago mental health wasn’t as much of a public issue as it is in this day and age.  It’s been taken into consideration how students’ feel about school.

When there are problems going on in schools that have to do with safety, it can be detrimental to a student’s daily routine. Noticing their anxiety or stress levels rising to new highs can be as simple as noticing if a student can abide by basic school rules.  When this occurs, this disruption to a child’s normal behavior, there could be a problem with the student’s respect towards others or something else could be going on in their life.  That “something else” could be anything; that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily their fault.  When anything goes wrong in a student’s life, there is a general possibility that their scholastic career could be affected as well. This simply makes them a human being by reacting to the circumstances in their lives; it doesn’t make anyone less important to go through something especially if it’s not their own fault.  Despite the recent events, it’s obvious that every student has a different life to live and deal with.  Every student’s life matters as well; them getting through the day is the most important part of that.

As the school social worker at Riverbend High School, Ms. Lisa Parrish knows a thing or two about the significance of taking care of students; she’s been working throughout the county for years.  Meeting her and hearing her talk about her job, it’s obvious that she lives and breathes for the kids she works for.  After explaining how in society, mental health is overlooked because people purposely want to avoid it, she wasn’t shy about admitting that we, as a dominant group of influential people in society are  preventing people with problems from admitting they need help by ignoring real struggles.  Students will keep their emotions or thoughts to themselves when they’re not comfortable enough to admit that they have a problem. People become ashamed when things go wrong, blame themselves, and act as if nothing is wrong to conform.  Many people have these unidentified struggles; no one is abnormal for having them either.  That’s why mental health has become a well-known topic in society.  Some people have stopped hiding it because they realize it is apart of who they are, and that it’s not meant to make them look bad.  It’s apart of their everyday lives and can be in high school as well.

Reflecting on the past few months, it should be easy to understand that anything can happen.  Riverbend is a high school with many people in it; they’re all different and that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Students, teachers, and faculty included, do not deserve to be threatened.  We had a courageous student report the threat.  All together as a student body, Dr. Wright said that he believes “our kids handled everything very well.  The students were very mature and they really stayed focused on instruction and their main focus on coming to school.” There couldn’t be a better response.  While the rumors deployed like rockets throughout the school, still students filled the hallways and kept their heads up.  What could have happened did not.  This is thanks to our very attentive student body, staff, administrators, and Spotsylvania County officers.