Two Views: SBHCs are saving lives

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We've started asking young people about their experiences with school-based health centers around the state and we're finding some amazing stories. Below we feature two perspectives. Mandy from David Douglas High School and C.C.J. from Pendleton High School share, in their own words, some powerful stories about health and SBHCs.

Mandy is a senior at David Douglas High School in Multnomah County

"The adult with me is a teacher at my school, Heidi Willis. I have known her for three years now, and we have become so close she is more like family. So I started calling her my aunt.

"In my picture it states ‘She Saved Me,’ because when I first met her I started to fall back into my path of depression that I had back in middle school. When I was in foster care, at age 10, I was abused by my foster dad, and also lost someone who I was very close to. This all led me into that depression.
"Heidi was with me through it all, especially at my lowest when I wanted to end my life. From her being there for me she made me feel so much better and ultimately kept me from making that mistake.

"But recently this year I lost my grandma and that triggered back up my depression. The first thing I did was go to her and tell her what was happening. I found out that our school-based health center offered counseling to students who do not have health insurance. She strongly encouraged me to go there and see if I could set up an appointment. So I did.

"Since then, I have realized how grateful I am to have her in my life because without her I wouldn't be here, and I wouldn't have found out about the help I could receive at the health center."

C.C.J. is a sophomore at Pendleton High School in Umatilla County

"I was going through a really rough patch in my life at the beginning of the school year and dealing with some family problems and depression. I was afraid of who I was becoming, and my friends were worried about me and helped push me to connect with the counseling office at my school.

"It was there that I connected with Bob (a licensed clinical social worker) and Alisha (nurse and coordinator) who work out of the school-based health center (SBHC). He did an evaluation for depression and started working with me so I could get the help I needed.

"Within my family, there is a lot of pressure and stress. They think I just want attention and want me to push through to get over it. They don’t really understand depression and it’s hard for me to talk to them.

"I’ve tried working with other counselors outside of the school, but I didn’t have a great experience. I felt diminished, like they wouldn’t listen. Their advice just didn’t seem to apply to me and they wanted to just put me on some medication.

"Honestly, the SBHC is a lot better for me. They really see me as a person and they listen. They don’t judge me and they are always willing to talk. It’s a really safe place for me, and I’m in at least once per week, but I stop in and say hello every day.

"The help I’ve gotten through the SBHC makes me feel like a huge weight has been released from me. I used to be kind of a loner, crying every night, shut off from the world, and not knowing how to deal with life.

"I’m so much happier and a lot more open minded. I’m a lot more ready to start my life and feel like I’m able to get through. I love music and the violin, and I also love forensics and I’m already making plans for college. But, I guarantee… visit my SBHC and you’ll love it. You’ll see what I mean!"