Doors Are Always Open in the Guidance Office


Four walls meeting your eyes with their condescension. A disagreeably stiff chair paired with a lot of information you don’t understand, and frankly, don’t feel like hearing. The monthly trip to the guidance office. You’re probably there to talk about what classes you want to take next year, or how to get your community service hours acquired, and that’s all you think of it. You won’t give that meeting or who led it a second thought. This is where we go wrong immediately. When we think of our guidance counselor as someone who isn’t worth thinking about twice. As someone who is around to help you juggle all the things you’ll encounter as a growing student, guidance counselors don’t deserve this. Why should we disregard someone who has such good intentions?

Administrators have a trivial goal of making it evident to students that guidance counselors are an anchor—a resource that remains throughout any circumstance. Here’s what we’ve been told: Guidance counselors have long been conferred as someone you can confide in regarding vulnerable topics. It is encouraged that you talk to your guidance counselor when you encounter mental health or personal life roadblocks. Counselors are known to be accepting and safe; you can trust them with your personal information. Things you may not want to tell your own friends, you can tell your guidance counselor. But students seldom take the opportunity to service their guidance counselor’s presence for those kinds of things. More often will you find students utilizing their counselor’s advice for more professional topics presented with intimidation. Things like scheduling or preparing for college, students go to their counselors for help on things seemingly too difficult to accomplish alone. This is the catalyst for most conflict students have regarding relationships with their counselors. If we think of our guidance counselors as micromanagers, we miss the opportunity to use their presence to our best advantage. We create an inaccurate algorithm that is difficult to break free from. We get accustomed to talking to our counselors about one certain thing, and it’s almost never mental health. It’s time we fixed that.

Taken from a poll I initiated on social media titled “Do You Speak to Your Counselor About Mental Health?”, it’s been revealed that approximately sixteen percent of high schoolers regularly, if at all, take the time to visit their guidance counselor about their personal lives/mental health. The other eighty-four percent are indiferent. Now, while this poll was not administered to the entire school, eighty-four percent of any amount is still more than three fourths of it. Eighty-four percent of a sample of students at Huntingtown don’t take the opportunity to receive a guidance counselors’ helpful advice. As unusual as this may seem, these
students are entitled to their own values and opinions, and many have justifiable reasons for their lack of counselor communication.

Responses from a separate poll I created titled “Why Don’t You Speak to Your Counselor?” reveal that around forty-three percent of those eighty-four don’t see
their guidance counselors because they have seen, or are currently seeing, someone licensed. Some of them don’t think guidance counselors have the proper qualifications when it comes to discussing mental health issues, whether that’s a fancy degree or life experience. That is entirely up to interpretation, and if it checks out, perhaps we could advise for that to change. Students have a voice, an even louder one as a whole, and could come together to form legislation to help guidance counselors acquire those qualifications. While this solution may seem radical, HHS has an influential Student Government which has proved successful with this sort of aid in the past. Thirty-two percent of the respondents don’t see their guidance counselor because they have only met them a few times. Those people would feel more comfortable talking to their guidance counselors if they knew them better.

This brings us back to the issue of categorizing our counselors as micromanagers. If we only ever see our guidance counselors once every year to schedule, we have no
hope in forming an appropriate relationship. You wouldn’t tell a stranger on the street about your parents divorcing or your toxic relationship. Just like you wouldn’t
tell your guidance counselor whom you see once a year about those things. If you don’t put in efort to really know the person you’re talking to, no matter the topic,
it’s likely you won’t tell the whole truth. And someone trying to decipher your words to find a deeper meaning will fail with anything less than the truth. The remaining
nine percent of respondents found no reason to see a counselor regarding mental health issues because they don’t sufer from any. Just because so many people
suffer from mental health issues doesn’t mean we should assume everyone does. Accounting for those forty-three percent who don’t see their counselors
because they are already seeing someone, it’s up to them if they think guidance counselors should be granted the proper therapeutic qualifications. These
respondents would be a beneficial resource in this discussion because they are familiar with what an accepting environment for something as vulnerable as mental
health should look like. Said professionals can also be an attributable resource. It can be debated if guidance counselors are already equipped with the skill to juggle
what they really do for students and what they could be doing for students. Some may say counselors would not be able to take on this skill considering most
students don’t come to them for mental health guidance. How can we improve our skill in a field we never practice? And this is why it is so important to talk to the
professionals as well as the students. Both have a monumental influence in the matter. Professionals because they, if anyone, know what they’re talking about and
can provide the correct steps. And students because they are the ones with something to share, something that’s possibly very difficult to discuss. Students should know they are being provided with a favorable environment– they should be guaranteed it.

The solution is simple for the thirty-two percent who would talk to theircounselors but don’t have the proper relationship. If you think you’d be better of
having a closer relationship with your counselor, you have to take the initiative. You can foster and uphold a relationship to reach the outcome you desire. Starting out
simple is a great way to start. If you don’t already know your counselor, get
acquainted with them. Say hello to them in the halls, stop by their office once in a while, keep in touch over email. The rest is a smooth ride. Your counselor is there to help you; they’re going to appreciate your attempt to foster a better relationship. And you’ll find that it doesn’t take a lot to form a relationship with someone. Just
think of how simple it is to make a friend out of a stranger. Find common ground and treat your counselor as your equal. With shared interests and something to talk
about, you’re halfway there. The only thing left is considered to be the difficult part- finally confide in your counselor. Use the time you took to form trust with your counselor to your advantage. In the end, you’ll find that it’s refreshing to have someone to talk with. This will help diminish the weight of the things you’ve been
emotionally carrying and alleviate the pressure of speaking to your counselor about vulnerability.

So, we were able to ascertain that there is more than one reason students do not speak to their guidance counselors about mental health. It’s time that changed. There are more ways to confide in your counselor than just the ones mentioned but the only way to find more is to brainstorm and execute. You have so much power with such a young mind– use that to your advantage. Foster a relationship with your guidance counselor; a relationship where you’re comfortable enough to discuss mental health topics. The last thing someone who’s sufering needs is to have no one to confide in. Maybe you think it’s enough to simply confide in yourself, but if you don’t, know that a guidance counselor’s door is always open.