by Matthew Tran (’23) | March 29, 2021
Human beings are inherently social. Every human possesses a universal trait that enables us to cognitively identify each other’s emotions almost immediately. Regardless of age and other distinctions present among the human race, it is an obvious truth that humans leak emotions to each other every day. Adolescents, who adhere to such truth, further develop their competence in mirroring one another’s brain activity when communicating sympathy or agreement with each other. During a monumental phase in their lives filled with both continuities and changes, they begin to recognize this emotional state of human communion.
For over a year, students and their families, educators, and especially Saint Francis’ mental health team have confronted unprecedented challenges in adapting to remote and hybrid learning. An assortment of emotions may arise in an individual in response to such trying circumstances, and it is completely normal to have mixed reactions amidst great uncertainty. In what could be described as a near social blackout, many Saint Francis students have encountered strained connections with their closest peers, their loved ones, and their guidance counselors. Hence, addressing the mental health challenges faced by students, parents, and faculty has become essential to adapting to a new life during an ongoing global pandemic. Saint Francis’ mental health advisors have made it their mission to continue to provide “bite-sized tools” to help facilitate the optimal development of every student.
Ms. Molly Boesiger, the Advisory Coordinator at Saint Francis, sympathizes with students regarding the acute symptoms of stress and anxiety experienced throughout the pandemic: “It is a lot for a high school student to be vulnerable enough to open up and say ‘I want to talk to you about this.’”
As a moderator of SFThrive, Boesiger instills in her students the crucial strategies for coping with stressors in everyday life. SFThrive occasionally hosts speaker events that present richly-detailed, strategic plans to students and faculty members regarding how to tackle a particular aspect of mental health. At each meeting, topics range from stimulating brain health to increasing productivity. When planning the recent meeting, Boseiger and Mr. Aaron Burney aspired to educate the school community about deconstructing stress: “We wanted to host an event that was designed to help students understand why we experience stress and anxiety, what [stress] is, and why [stress] is not a necessarily horrible thing from a scientific and evolutionary perspective. But also, to empower students to reframe their thinking and language to develop strategies that work best for them.”
All members of the school community are welcomed and encouraged to attend SFThrive’s speaker events. Aside from SFThrive, Boesiger believes in the overwhelmingly positive outcomes of implementing the Advisory Program. Exclusive to freshman and sophomore students, Advisory has become a space for students and faculty to “start a conversation” about particular stressors in their lives. Boesiger emphasizes the importance of positive communication between students and faculty since conversation-building is one of the most readily accessible resources for students: “A student can apply the things talked about in Advisory to another class. What was learned could relate to something else a student hears in a religious studies class. Our hope is that Advisory continues to be very helpful for students in teaching them the skills to learn to manage and care for their mental health.”
The Lancer would like to thank Ms. Boesiger and all of Saint Francis’ mental health advisors for their tireless dedication to not only ensure a positive and safe school environment but for teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors across an entire school community.