SRSLY and Chelsea Schools' Support Youth Mental Health through Career Guidance
As the community observes Mental Health Awareness Month in May, SRSLY Chelsea is intensifying its focus on providing pertinent training, resources, and events. However, their commitment extends beyond this specific month.
At its core, SRSLY Chelsea aims to unite the community in supporting youth mental health and preventing substance abuse among young people through proactive measures, education, and advocacy.
The query, "Where are you going to college?" might seem innocuous to some, but it poses a significant connection to mental health, according to SRSLY Chelsea Director, Kate Yocum. She shared, “Students frequently share their anxiety around that question with me. When they don’t have an answer, they feel a sense of failure. To me, that immediately qualifies this topic as a mental health priority for our coalition.”
Graduation season can evoke diverse emotions among students. While some relish this period, anticipating the future with excitement, others face it with uncertainty, and for a few, this time is marked by dread. This is because they will primarily be repeatedly confronted with the question of their post-graduation plans, particularly, "Where are you going to college?" Not having a sure answer often leads to feelings of isolation, shame, and unwarranted failure.
SRSLY is joining forces with Chelsea High School to address this concern. While information about four-year colleges is readily available, it's important to consider students who might not see this as their chosen path. What options are available to them? Is it possible to find a secure job that can support them financially as they transition into adulthood? What about vocational careers, and what does the term "trades" encompass?
“After several students approached me with these same concerns, we took an unconventional fork in the road to support them,” said Yocum.
Mental Health Awareness Month, celebrated in May, sheds light on mental health issues and promotes awareness and understanding. SRSLY is using the heightened public attention to foster an innovative approach to address students' concerns about future career paths.
The SRSLY team asked students about their primary uncertainties when considering the trades. They then collaborated with the CHS office to compile answers to these frequent queries in a tangible document that any student can access directly from the school website. This packet offers information about various trade fields, potential salaries, relevant schools, application tips, and more.
Click HERE or scan the below QR code to view the packet.
“We’re looking to make the sentence ‘I’m exploring my options’ a frequent one for these teens, with the ultimate goal of bolstering their confidence, giving them a sense of achievement, and a feeling of confidence in making it this far,” said Yocum. “Graduating high school is a big deal, and one worth celebrating without any stipulations about what’s next.”
SRSLY Chelsea has been making significant strides in the community through its ongoing initiatives. Their programs aim to create a supportive environment for youth, promote mental health awareness, and take active measures against substance abuse. Their partnership with local schools has been vital in their commitment to the well-being of the youth in Chelsea.
To further provide students with information about their future options, the CHS Counseling office arranged for representatives from Washtenaw Community College to speak about available programs, application procedures, and potential salaries. The students also had the opportunity to visit the UA-190 and Local 252 unions.
"Trade schools and apprenticeship programs are great opportunities for students after high school,” said Tim Mann, a Chelsea High School counselor. “Many of these programs are in high demand, have low tuition costs, and get students on the path to becoming self-sufficient."
“In the past, it didn’t feel like there was adequate information on how to go down a path like the trades,” said Nicolette Rivers, a Chelsea High School senior. “As a society, and locally in Chelsea, it’s very ingrained in us that college is the only option, and I had no idea where to start if that wasn’t for me. This new resource that srsly students and our counseling team developed is an important way to make students feel comfortable and informed about deciding their futures.”
Moving forward, the aim is to hold annual Q&A sessions accessible to all juniors and seniors who wish to explore their options about four-year colleges, trades, and a range of other pathways.
“We know that a sense of purpose and confidence in identity is crucial for positive mental health outcomes,” said Yocum. “We believe mental health resources aren’t limited to a certain clinical method. This is their future. This season of decisions is what feels the biggest to them right now. They deserve our support and attention.”
For more information about mental health and the initiatives by SRSLY, visit srsly.org or find them on Facebook @srslychelsea. To contribute to their cause, please visit https://giving.stjoeshealth.org/srsly.