South Salem High school created a “calm room” to help students cope with mental health challenges. (Salem Keizer Public Schools)
SALEM, Ore. – A high school is taking an extra step to help students battling anxiety and depression, creating a safe space for them.
South Salem High School in Oregon created a “calm room” to help improve students’ mental health. The designated classroom opened in the fall of 2021.
School officials said the idea came about after they noticed a growing trend of students suffering from headaches and stomach aches. They discovered the illnesses were symptoms of depression and anxiety. Rather than traditionally sending students home, the school gave the stressed students a 20-to-30-minute break, and they were able to return to class.
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“Simultaneously, our student suicide prevention club, Saxon Strong conducted a schoolwide survey asking students to identify anything that would help improve their mental health,” Ryan Marshall, lead school counselor, told FOX Television Stations. “The overwhelming number one response from students was to add a student calm room.”
“We got creative, though, and used whatever space we could find as we weathered the pandemic and bond construction work,” he continued.
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Marshall said the purpose of the room is “to offer students a school-based home for hope, wellness, and renewal.” The room contains couches, bean bag chairs, rocking chairs and workspaces. Puzzles, games, cards and other activities are also provided. The room is supervised by a counseling support specialist.
School officials said the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on schools exacerbated the students’ mental well-being.
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