Jepson Wellness Center

Jepson Students Debut Wellness Center to Support Student Mental Health
Posted on 09/18/2023
Jepson Wellness CenterThis month, the new Wellness Center at Willis Jepson Middle School opened for its students.

The Wellness Center or “Jaguar Zen Den” at Willis Jepson Middle School began with the vision of five childhood friends who are also current and alumni students of Jepson Middle School.Jepson Wellness Center Ribbon Cutting Lily, Nikki, Ayanna, Amy, and Caitlyn have been friends since preschool and are members of the Girl Scout troop 20113.

The friends were looking to engage in a mental health initiative for their school as part of their Silver Award Project for the Girl Scout troop. They noticed that during the COVID pandemic, they began to experience challenges with mental health but often didn’t know how to cope and wished they and their peers had a more private space at school to release emotions.

As part of their research, they learned the Centers for Disease and Control reported:
1 in 5 teens has had a severe mental health disorder at some point in their life.
In 2021, 42% of students felt sad or hopeless
29% experienced poor mental health.
In 2021, 22% of students considered attempting suicide.
10% of students attempted suicide.

Cynthia Coble, a teacher at Jepson, proposed the idea of a wellness center to the Jepson Wellness Task Force. The task force includes the Jepson Counseling team. Jepson Wellness Center Ribbon CuttingThe friends partnered with the counseling staff to curate the space with an ocean theme for a calming atmosphere. The friends each selected items to include in the Jaguar Zen Den and even donated items they had at home to share.

Their research showed, “Wellness rooms teach healthy coping skills to regulate emotions, calm the nervous system, and allow us to reach our prefrontal cortex to choose how to respond rather than react. A wellness room at Utah’s Westlake High School helped students, parents, and staff reduce anxiety and depression. In contrast, students of color and genderqueer benefited most from the space.”

Jepson Wellness Center Ribbon CuttingJepson students have already begun enjoying the Jaguar Zen Den. “In the short time our Jaguar Zen Den has been open, we have already been able to successfully utilize this space to assist students who are struggling for many reasons, including the loss of a family member, anxiety, panic attacks, and anger, to name a few. We are grateful to have this space available,” said Angie Roe, 8th-grade counselor at Jepson.

The Wellness Task Force is grateful to everyone who contributed to making the Jaguar Zen Den possible to support its student community.
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