HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

West Jordan schools provide mental wellness rooms for stressed students

Apr 6, 2022, 1:45 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 5:22 pm

WEST JORDAN, Utah – A room at an elementary school in West Jordan is getting a lot of attention for helping students with mental health concerns.

Of all the lessons you can learn in a classroom, sixth-grader Yadira Morales has figured out that time with teachers, friends and books is everything.

“I love school because you get to learn new things every day,” she said. “My favorite subject is science.”

However, what might be the most important lesson she’s learning at Oquirrh Elementary School in West Jordan is time for herself.

“It’s really important because you can get all the bad thoughts out of your head,” said Morales. “If you have really bad thoughts in your head, you can get those out. All you have to do is come here.”

Mental health for students is getting more attention in districts all across Utah. That’s where the room comes in.

It’s called a wellness center, and even though it’s a classroom inside Oquirrh Elementary, it’s decorated differently.

There is softer lighting, things students can do with their hands, and even comfortable chairs and couches in a quiet, peaceful environment to help students refocus.

“Students choose to come down when they need an opportunity to manage their emotions,” said Shauna Worthington, principal at Oquirrh Elementary School. “We have lessons every day, morning and afternoon, about how to recognize emotions and manage them and communicate with other people and then we give them a space to practice some of those skills.”

 

 

So far, it’s paid off.

Worthington says not only has she noticed many of her students doing better in class, but she also said high-level behavioral issues decreased 40% in the first 90 days since the wellness center opened.

“Our students were learning very quickly how to manage themselves and keep themselves in class and keep them learning with a little bit of intervention time,” said Worthington.

Here’s how it works: if a student feels like they need it, they get a pass from their teacher and check in with the teacher at the wellness center.

They stay about 10 minutes at a time, no electronics allowed, then go back to class in most cases.

“It feels much more relaxing,” said Morales, who admits she uses the room before tests in her normal classroom. “It helps you to destress.”

Oquirrh Elementary was the first school in the Jordan School District to create a wellness room.

Now, 15 of the almost 60 schools in the District have one there are plans to add more including similar rooms for staff and teachers.

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West Jordan schools provide mental wellness rooms for stressed students