Prioritizing Mental Health for Academic Success


Back to school–making friends, adjusting to new classes, what feels like more homework than ever. Is it all so frustrating and overwhelming that you just might cry? We at the Highland Fling get that.

And since the number of anxious students appears to be rising, we decided to compile some ways you can reduce your anxiety on campus and at home: 

Wellness Center  

Fortunately, Helix has its very own space dedicated to helping students process their emotions. It is located in the old administration building, behind the 200s building. The Wellness Center was developed to provide “support around stress management, life crises, relationship issues, family issues,” Ms. Yee explains, ¨really you name it…we’re here” There’s even an anxiety group that meets on Mondays at lunch.

Even though this service is quite unique to the district, very few Helix students actually take advantage of the Wellness Center. Ms. Yee confirmed that from the first day of school until Thursday, September 20th, there were only 400 visits to the Wellness Center–including students who had been called out of class. This makes for an average of only 12 visits per day. There’s no shame in talking to someone about how you feel. Everyone gets stressed.


Healthy Diet

It may surprise you to know that the way you’re eating is actually affecting your emotions. When asked about how eating habits affect our daily lives, Helix Teacher Ms. Bullock, who has forged her own health and wellness path, reported that “our gut is really the central hub of our entire wellbeing.” We don’t think about it too often, but, “the more junk you eat…[the more] things get into your bloodstream that shouldn’t…it can cause anxiety, and it can cause depression.” In other words, our diets should consist of more whole foods, like fruits and veggies, than sugar and processed foods.

“Don’t feel like you have to eat cardboard and green beans all the time,” Ms. Bullock jokes. She even suggests making your own “junk” food like pizza and macaroni and cheese. This way, you can have fun, and be mindful of ingredients at the same time.


Usually, when we think of exercise, the first thing that comes to our minds is something boring, exhausting, and extremely difficult. But in reality, there are so many ways to fit exercise into our schedule–without having to lift weights or run 12 miles.


Have you ever thought about going roller-blading at mission beach? Riding a bike with a friend at Lake Murray? Taking your dog for a walk through your neighborhood? As stated by Ms. Bullock, “you never regret working out.”


Who knew you could tame stress while sleeping? Well, it’s true. But how much sleep do we really need?  Between “eight and ten hours” Ms. Yee argues. But, for some (or most) of us, that number seems way too high to even dream about. Thankfully, “what the research shows is that just half an hour more sleep per night can decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.”


With September being National Suicide Awareness Month, it is important to take a moment and remember that you matter and that taking care of yourself, both emotionally and physically, is essential. Thankfully, Helix really is a safe place to work through all of the normal struggles and frustrations we all experience in high school. 


If you would like further assistance, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255