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Utah school district puts more emphasis on student mental health with wellness room

Posted at 7:55 AM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 09:55:15-04

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — The Jordan School District has spent the last few years putting a huge emphasis on the mental well-being of students, and this year is no different.

As middle and elementary school students head back to the classroom on Tuesday, they will have several tools to help manage their emotions and the stress of the school day.

“All of our schools make intentional efforts to build students’ social and emotional skills,” said McKinley Withers, Health and Wellness Specialist with the Jordan School District.

Over the years, the Jordan School District has worked to build a strong support team to help students when mental issues pop up.

“When students are struggling, there are counselors, psychologist, social workers that are able to intervene to support students,” said Withers.

One of the resources they have in schools, are wellness rooms.

“We’ve seen students be able to, first identify their emotions at a low level, and then be able to have a place to come practice their emotion management and then get right back to work,” said Shauna Worthington, Principal of Oquirrh Elementary.

A wellness room is a place in the school where students can go to regroup and calm down after stressing out in class.

“A student who might be overwhelmed every day during math knows that they can take a step away from that and regroup and come back to math,” said Worthington.

Students come to the wellness room, pick up a ten-minute timer, their tool of choice and practice managing their emotions before going back to class.

Worthington says they’ve seen massive improvements in students’ behaviors.

READ: Utah Back to School COVID-19 information

“In the first 90 days, our office referrals for significant behavior declined by 40% and that significant,” said Worthington.

In the first 90 days of having a wellness room, Oquirrh Elementary had 2,600 visits from students.

“I think it’s critical for every child, at every level to have access to a tool like this,” said Worthington.

While not every school has a wellness room just yet, the district is hoping to add more in the future.