Wellness visitation increases nearly two fold

Wellness Center visitation has increased nearly two-hundred percent which has led many students to wait for care.

Wellness Center visitation has nearly doubled and referrals have all but tripled since the return to campus this August.

The Wellness Center has been a resource at Roseville High School since the 2018-2019 school year. In this time, Wellness has helped students and staff alike through stress management, counseling, crisis management and has overall solidified its place within the RHS community. 

Throughout its time on campus, Wellness has traditionally opened its doors to both walk-in’s and appointments, otherwise known as general visitation, as well as referrals where staff will refer students to mental health specialists in the center. This year, however, due to size and demand, Wellness has had to move towards an appointment based model which has led many students to wait or to go without care.

In the 2019 school year, in just August through October, the RHS Wellness Center saw 546 visitations from students along with 35 referrals up to Wellness for various reasons across all four grade levels – 9 Freshman, 10 Sophomores, 9 Juniors and 7 Seniors were referred. 

While district leaders and board members are praising the “return to normal,” they have not acknowledged the toll the transition back has taken emotionally on students who have been severely impacted by the pandemic.”

— Christina Dobon, Wellness and Prevention Coordinator

Wellness this year has seen a staggering increase in both visitation traffic as well as referrals, with nearly double the number of visitations at 1048 visitations with 99 referrals – 24 Freshman, 31 Sophomores, 24 Juniors, and 20 seniors being referred in just August through October. 

While this data does have repeated students mixed into the numbers, it seems to suggest that in 2019 August through October, or the last time students were fully on campus before the COVID shutdown, Wellness was making its mark and helping students. However, the wake of COVID has taken its toll on the RHS population, leading to an increased need for services the Wellness center provides, such as brain breaks and general counseling. 

“This has been our busiest year since we opened the Wellness Center,” mental health specialist Anna Gammalgard said. “Sometimes it takes longer than it would have in the past when people can generally just walk in and get the support they need.”

In just two years, traffic has nearly doubled with a 191% increase in visitation. Furthermore, referrals up to Wellness have grown nearly threefold with a 282% increase. The mass growth in Wellness visitation has led to the center to be in constant use and rarely empty. 

“At the beginning of the year, we definitely saw more students coming in with stress and anxiety related to adjusting to being back on a full campus, that was definitely noticeable,” Gammalgard said.

Students too have noticed Wellness teeming with their peers.

“There were people  that were kinda taking mental breaks on the couch. You could tell that they were relaxed there, and were able to calm themselves down there,” Senior Elizabeth Cardoza said. “There was a good vibe.”

While not wholly due to pandemic struggles, this unprecedented growth has been chiefly attributed to just a part of the readjustment process onto campus, which has seemingly played into higher mental health needs for many students who enter the center. However, due to the nature of Wellness care, it is unclear whether this higher need is from said readjustment or from more willingness to share. Wellness and Prevention Coordinator Cristina Dobon attributes the increase more to the transition back onto campus and out of zoom. 

“While district leaders and board members are praising the “return to normal,” they have not acknowledged the toll the transition back has taken emotionally on students who have been severely impacted by the pandemic,” Dobon said.

The rapid increase of Wellness needs was not unexpected, although it certainly has been cause for some readjustment from Wellness staff. While many are able to utilize all that Wellness has to offer, the rise in usage has caused Wellness to resort to a more appointment-based framework in opposition to their previous walk-in method.

“Unfortunately, because of [increased traffic] there have been some days where we have had to ask students that are wanting to speak with someone to wait for us or the counselor’s to follow up with them at a later time,” Gammalgard said. 

Even with the increased traffic many students are still able to see counselors at any point during the day.

“One of my teachers brought me up there and I saw one of the counselors and we had kind of an introduction session but I really wasn’t waiting around,” Cardoza said. They were super on top of it and they were ready to see me.”

While Wellness works to speak with every student that comes to them, the ramifications for students who have to wait to be seen could be massive as they will now have to wait to be helped. However, even during this readjustment and realignment of Wellness function, the increased traffic has been noted as mostly a positive for Wellness and the Wellness initiative. 

“We are so happy that students are comfortable reaching out for support and see this increase in traffic as mostly a good thing,” Gammalgard said.