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Wheeling Park High School is committed to the mental health and emotional wellbeing of its students.

For that reason, Wheeling Park Mental Health Counselor Jill Maloney has organized weekly meetings for Patriot students who may be dealing with stress or anxiety leading up to Ohio County Schools holiday break. Students who choose to take part in the sessions have the opportunity to do so each Tuesday until the break begins on Dec. 20.

“There are many reasons a student may be dealing with mental health issues as the holidays near,” Maloney said. “We just want them to know that there are people at Wheeling Park High School who care about them, and they are willing to help them deal with the difficulties they are going through. Also, the students have the opportunity to share their feelings with students who are dealing with many of the same issues. We want the students to understand that they are not alone.”

Maloney noted that Wheeling Park High School also recently implemented “Team Mental Health First Aid” into the school’s curriculum. The program is a skills-based training course that teaches students about mental health and substance-abuse issues. Wheeling Park and its counselors teamed with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Wheeling for the initial five-week run of the program which recently concluded. Maloney said the program gained notoriety through Lady GaGa’s “Born This Way Foundation,” and it’s initial run at Wheeling Park was a success.

“The goal is to educate teens about mental health issues so they can help themselves and others to recognize if they or others are struggling,” Maloney said. “We want the students to know the signs and symptoms, and we want them to know where to turn if they need help. The goal is to provide students with life and relationship skills they can use for the rest of their lives. This year, the program involved sophomores, but the goal is to expand it to additional grade levels each year.”

Photo: Pictured is Wheeling Park High School Mental Health Counselor Jill Maloney with Patriot students Ava Lopata and C.J. Warner during the school’s recent “Team Mental Health First Aid” program that deals with mental health and substance about issues.

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