Is the crisis averted?


Infographic by: Miles Bennett

Sailor Hawes and Miles Bennett

Like most public high schools, Ventura High School has a small handful of guidance counselors. These people are a group of staff members that have been tasked with the challenge of guiding students to a favorable path in life and helping them on their occasionally treacherous journey through high school.

On occasion, VHS guidance counselors go above and beyond their job description and assist students with their mental health and ailments relating to it. This is perfectly legal and does wonders for many

Infographic by: Miles Bennett

VHS students who occasionally struggle to get by, or who need to talk to a trusted adult who cares.

Although many students may benefit from some of the guidance counselors assisting them in issues relating to their mental health, the truth is that guidance counselor aren’t always certified to assist a student with that sort of thing.

Naturally, there is a position a counselor can hold at a school which qualifies them to assist students with mental health issues and even mental health crisis. These types of staff members are known as crisis counselors. Crisis counselors deviate from guidance counselors in that they specialize in helping students during times of, you guessed it, crisis.

These counselors help students cope with various things, including but not limited to: panic attacks, suicidal thoughts or actions, sexual abuse, physical abuse, domestic abuse, drug abuse and PTSD. But if a crisis counselor would be so beneficial to have here, one might wonder why VHS doesn’t have one?

Actually, in previous years, VHS has had a certified crisis counselor. Francisco Castillo, a guidance counselor, said, “We had a program called the Students Assistance Program and there was a counselor that specifically worked with that program…In the past, we had a full time Students Assistance Program counselor but then it was cut to 40% and then it just disappeared.”

The last time there was a full time crisis counselor at VHS was about 10 years ago. “[Sonja] Frias was the last SAP counselor [we had],” according to Castillo.

When asked if he thinks VHS will get a crisis counselor back next year, Castillo shared: “All of the counselors have been pushing for that because there is a need. We have a lot of [students] that have different types of problems on campus so there is a definite need for it.”

Interview with Castillo by Miles Bennett:

Being a certified crisis counselor takes a special kind of training. If a student has a crisis at school while on campus, the crisis counselor needs to stay with that student all day until he/she is in a more stable place.

“We want our students to have all of their needs met, not just the academic but the social and emotional as well,” Castillo mentioned.

Alex Perry, a Ventura High teacher of an E.D. (Emotionally Disturbed) class, also spoke about the possible crisis counselor saying, “[Having a crisis counselor] available quickly for a student who’s in need would be beneficial as opposed to having to call a crisis unit team that has to assemble [far away from VHS]”. He went on to say that a crisis team could take hours to get here and the student in crisis’ condition could get way worse by that time.

A crisis counselor would most likely be beneficial for VHS students and faculty but until one comes we’ll have to avert our crisis on our own (or with the help of the partially unqualified).