Mindfulness Despite Madness

A look into how the Portola High community fosters mental health awareness through crises

Trung Huynh, senior

“Personally, I don’t have any mental health problems, but I know a lot of friends who do have mental health [issues]. For me, I try my best to understand and do my research on how to help them. I think mental health is a really big issue that a lot of people don’t know about and don’t know how to resolve.

That’s literally what friends are for. They’re for support and talking to each other. They aren’t annoyed by the fact that you’re going to reach out; in fact, they probably want you to reach out to them for help.

We play a lot of ‘Among Us.’ There’s just a lot of talking in general, and interacting with each other and having fun. We also play ‘Valorant’ and ‘Minecraft.’”

Ryan Itchon, counselor

“My main advice is to keep going. To understand that you are not alone with the struggles that you’re dealing with and to be brave enough to seek help. I think sometimes students view getting help or seeing a therapist or seeing a counselor as a sign of weakness, when I view it as a sign of strength. It just means that you don’t feel like you’re able to handle the shoulder alone, and you seek that support to be able to be more diligent and have those skills. Really, understanding that it’s not permanent what they’re struggling with, and that help is available.

My recommendations would be to maintain a normal routine. I know that, especially with hybrid and distance learning, it’s easy to fall into the trap of sleeping late or waking up late. It can do a lot of damage to how you feel on a day-to-day basis if they don’t have a proper routine set. My recommendation would be to plan each day as if it were a school day and you were to show up for that school day. Practice self-care consistently because when you’re in the right mindframe, you’ll be less stressed and more productive as a result.”

Maureen Muir, mental health specialist

“We’re seeing a lot of students reaching out. Reaching out to us in the counseling department, reaching out to teachers, reaching out to other people. It’s really easy for us to just be alone with our feelings right now when we’re in our houses.

We need to do a better job of just reaching out and letting people know, ‘Hey, I need help.’ And then helping when somebody does reach out to you. It’s working on taking control of what you have control over, reaching out when you need help, and just working on some really basic coping skills.

What are you doing to actually make yourself feel a little bit better? Are you in your kitchen and baking like crazy like some people did? Is it listening to music? Is it playing music? Is it playing some video games, but not too much?”

Maddy Fukuda, senior

“Personally, seeing plenty of successful women in the STEM and healthcare fields is something that motivates me a lot. As someone who wants to pursue a STEM career, it’s amazing and highly encouraging to see other females being as successful, if not more successful, as the men in the field. In my eyes, it’s the first step toward gender equality, not just in salary, but in society in general. This motivates me to work hard at school so I can become one of the women who is successful in the STEM field, and hopefully inspiring others.”

Melissa Lemus, junior

“This year has been one of the most stressful years because of everything that has been going on with the election, pandemic, fire and just with school in general. This year was not what I expected and I hate not knowing what is going to happen next. Being a junior during these times is extremely stressful because this year counts the most, and it is harder to do your best and comprehend everything when we only go to school two days a week since we mainly have to teach ourselves. To balance out the stress I would just take some time away from my phone and everything that is stressing me out, and just sit in my room and listen to music that makes me happy.”