During the month of May when the world is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month, SRSLY Chelsea is prioritizing relevant trainings, resources, and events accordingly, but they’re not stopping there.
What does teen mental health and the question “Where are you going to college?” have to do with one another?
“A lot,” said Kate Yocum, SRSLY Chelsea Director. “Students frequently share their anxiety around that question with me. When they don’t have an answer, they feel a sense of failure. To me, that immediately qualifies this topic as a mental health priority for our coalition.”
For many, graduation is a fun and exciting time of setting your sights on the future. For some, it’s a time of uncertainty. For others, it’s a time they’re dreading altogether, because for the next six months, everywhere they go, they will be asked the question, “Where are you going to college?”. Many of them won’t feel equipped to provide a confident answer, and as a result, may feel a sense of isolation, shame, and even unwarranted failure.
SRSLY is partnering with Chelsea High School to fix that. Information about four-year universities is easy to find, but what about answers for students who don’t feel like that path is for them? Are there still options? Can they find a job that is secure and meets their financial needs moving into adulthood? What about trades, and what does the word “trades” even entail?
“After several students approached me with these same concerns, we took an unconventional fork in the road to support them,” said Yocum.
The SRSLY Team asked students what their biggest unknowns are around exploring the trades, then partnered with the CHS office to answer those frequently asked questions in a singular, hardcopy document any student can access directly through the school website. To view this packet and learn about trade fields, salaries, schools, application advice and more, click HERE.
“We’re looking to make the sentence ‘I’m exploring my options’ a frequent one for these teens, with the ultimate goal of bolstering their confidence, giving them a sense of achievement, and a feeling of confidence in making it this far,” said Yocum.
“Graduating high school is a big deal, and one worth celebrating without any stipulations about what’s next.”
In addition, the CHS Counseling office hosted Washtenaw Community College representatives to speak about available programs, applications and salaries. The students also toured the UA-190 and Local 252 unions.
"Trade schools and apprenticeship programs are great opportunities for students after high school,” said Tim Mann, a Chelsea High School counselor. “Many of these programs are in high demand, have low tuition costs, and get students on the path to becoming self-sufficient."
“In the past, it didn’t feel like there was adequate information on how to go down a path like the trades,” said Nicolette Rivers, a Chelsea High School senior. “As a society, and locally in Chelsea, it’s very ingrained in us that college is the only option, and I had no idea where to start if that wasn’t for me. This new resource that srsly students and our counseling team developed is an important way to make students feel comfortable and informed about deciding their futures.”
The goal is to establish annual Q&A sessions moving forward that are accessible to all juniors and seniors who want to know their options about four-year schools, trades, and everything in between.
“We know that a sense of purpose and confidence in identity is crucial for positive mental health outcomes,” said Yocum.
“We believe mental health resources aren’t limited to a certain clinical method. This is their future. This season of decisions is what feels the biggest to them right now. They deserve our support and attention.”