If you walk down one of the halls at Renaissance High, you’ll see two rainbow wall also known as the “Coming Out Wall.”
Since early October, students have written down secrets to be posted to said wall, below results. In the first week, 29 students came out as part of the LGBTQ community, and 91 students posted about having some sort of mental health problem.
“I want to die,” a student wrote. This example of distress highlights what some at
Renaissance experience, as well as other high school students in general, frequently.
“I just want to be happy,” another student wrote. Is this a new norm for teens?
The National Center for Children in Poverty states, “approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder,” many of which first present symptoms during adolescence. Are we presenting signs?
Senior Miracle Morantat recalls a suicide that took place in her tenth grade year, as well as other attempts. “The administration told us if we are feeling any suicidal thought to go to a certain church for help, but they never did anything in the school.”
Sophomore Damon DeBose believes the administration should hold an assembly to discuss students counseling and mental health needs. In addition, he says the wall should stay up. “It's the first time the student body got to have some type of voice,” he said.
But sophomore Jaylon Gibbs thinks board game club should take down the wall. “None of this would have been brought up if they haven’t put the wall up,” he said. “I feel like they [the club] forced students to put up their secrets.”
The wall has been up for almost three weeks, and students from all grades have commented privately or in letters to board game club.
Board game club founding member, junior, Adanna Walker said, “I am very doubtful that admins are going to do anything [about students mental health problems], in the past they never did anything towards mental help,” said junior Adanna Walker.
Walker doesn’t think the wall should come down. “There’s been no concrete, logical reason for it to be taken down.”
But school-based clinical therapists at the Development Centers, Inc. in partnership with Principal Stroughter, have designed an LGBTQ Youth and Allies Support Group at RHS, in response to the wall. This collective will meet during seminar period Thursdays, “offering a safe space to honor, identify, and express yourself,” its ad states.
If 91 of 225 student posts are from students in distress, another questions is: what causes this kind of imbalance?
“School and homework is what I think the main causes are,” said sophomore Kaleb Green Sophomore. “It’s like teachers put school before students’ mental health”
“School is not the mental safe place for students,” Walker said.
The Development Centers, Inc. and administration are brainstorming ways to work with students to establish more supports for students.