New mental health wellness center opens at Lompoc High School

Lompoc High students have a new place to go for help with stress and other life issues.

Students and staff celebrated the grand opening of a new wellness center at Lompoc High School on Tuesday.

The center aims to give students a place to unwind while also raising awareness about mental health.

It’s not your typical school counselor’s office, and it’s more than just a Zen room.

The new wellness center aims to help students de-stress, talk about issues and get through school.

“I just think the world we live in has created more fear and anxiety in kids,” said Celeste Pico, principal of Lompoc High School.

The center is staffed with counselors who focus exclusively on mental health and social and emotional well-being.

“We teach social and emotional learning classes there. There’s a lot of good stuff going on, designed to just relax and a safe space for kids to be calm and just be accepted for who they are,” said school counselor Carla Montes.

The center offers one-on-one counseling and group classes on anxiety, stress, and anger management, as well as self-esteem and much more.

“The subject of anxiety and stress management is the most popular compared to the rest of the groups. We have the most students in those groups, which shows that we have a lot of anxious kids, a lot of stressed kids,” said Montes.

Administration officials say students are learning skills that will help them well into adulthood.

“They learn coping skills. When you come into this room you will see that there are nooks where they can paint, there are areas where they can just sit and draw,” Pico said.

The available counselors say they wish they had such resources when they were in high school.

“When I was in high school, my anxiety was so bad, but I silently struggled with it,” Montes said. “I love it because I grew up in this neighborhood too and I would have loved something like this growing up, I think it’s so necessary.”

The principal of Lompoc High School says mental health issues are nothing new – they are only just being talked about now.

“I think it’s always been there, it just hasn’t been at the forefront and now we recognize that need,” she said.

There are two counselors specifically assigned to the wellness center.

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