We interviewed High School Counselor Mrs. Amy Short! She is based in Georgia where she is serving to help high school students navigate through their tough times. Learn about her take on mental health!
Question: What does the term mental health mean to you?
Answer: My definition of mental health is that it represents how your whole self is feeling. It's not just your physical health or how your body is feeling but it's all a part of who you are [mentally]. When we're talking about mental health we're talking about: Are you happy? Are you feeling satisfied in the things that you're doing? Are you feeling confident in yourself? Are you feeling able to tackle the day? It is almost like the untouchable companion to your physical health, it can be good or it can be bad and a lot of it deals with the circumstances.
Question: What is your school counseling/educational philosophy?
Answer: My school counseling philosophy is for my students to know, as long as it isn't within the realm of ethical or illegal, I will do whatever I can to support them. That is why I am here, that's really what drives everything that I do as a school counselor. If we need to sit down and you don't know where to start, that’s ok, I'm going to listen to you. I'm going to hear you. I'm going to treat you respectfully. It's super important to me that I listen to you and I want you to know that you are being heard because if it’s important to you, it’s important to me.
Question: What do you think is the most important characteristic of a school counselor? What's the most essential characteristic that provides a supportive environment for students?
Answer: I think it's super important as a school counselor to be an advocate for our students. [More specifically] knowing that I'm going to help you if you need help no matter what the topic or issue is. Listening and advocating are the most important characteristics.
Question: What is the most innovative counseling technique you have used?
Answer: School counselors at the high school level aren’t always able to do a lot of group counseling sessions where you may use certain techniques. We are not licensed Mental Health [professionals] so you have to be careful ethically to stay in the role of school counselor and not therapist. When I started this job I was 23 and [my students] were teens, [so] we weren't far apart in age. [However,] students continue to stay in their teens and I keep aging. I hope what I bring is not a fancy innovative trick, but more trying to be relatable in my conversation and stay up to date with what is going on.
Question: Is there any advice you would give to someone who is struggling?
Answer: It is super hard to be a teenager these days. I would want a student who is struggling to hear me say that. I hope that opens a door for them to let them know that I am on their side. While I don't know what it's like to be a teenager now [I know that it is] very difficult. We ask that you take challenging classes, be involved in clubs, play sports, and even work part-time. We encourage you to do all this. However, we still say that you also need to have fun with your friends and need to go out for pizza on Friday nights. We somehow expect that as a teenager, you can and should manage all of these things and do it with a smile. It's unfortunate because at the same time that I'm telling [students] to do all of these, the very next breath I'm also telling you that you need to take care of yourself and find ways to relax. I can see how that is very confusing and overwhelming.
Question: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
Answer: I want to tell students that [school counselors] can do so much more than just schedule changing. We are all master’s level educated at a minimum and I promise in our graduate programs, schedule changing was no part of what we learned. We are here to support you in so many different ways. So what I want students here to realize, like I said earlier, is if you're not sure who to ask, if you just need to talk, or if you just maybe want to come sit on the floor and look out the window, that's okay. Come to your counselor. I want students to be able to walk in that door, be greeted by a friendly face, and have whatever it is addressed. Even if I don't know the answer or I'm not the right person, we will figure it out. It’s going to be okay.