STEPHANIE PINDER-AMAKER:
Everything that we know from
all of the experts here on the panel and
this field, more broadly, around the world suggests that
one of the things we have to do is we’ve got to begin these
discussions and this dialogue long before students
arrive or get ready to make that transition
from high school to college. So there’s a lot of emphasis
and energy and enthusiasm about working with
secondary school students and ensuring that they have
the emotional preparedness to make a transition to
college successfully. We know by definition that
transitions are always or can be points of
vulnerability for students. Whether it’s a transition
from high school to college, from a gap year to
college, a leave of absence for mental health reason
and return to school, these are all vulnerable
points for students, and so we want to make sure
that our students have the skill base and the knowledge. We’re out there working with
partners in the community teaching ninth graders,
10th graders, 11th graders, and 12th graders
what to look for. What are the signs
of depression? What are common
symptoms of anxiety? We’re working with
these students. A shout-out to the
MGH Youth Scholars. They’re a big partner of ours
in the community with the McLean College Mental Health Program. These students are amazing. They are fierce and
fearless as they’re leaning into these discussions,
learning about depression, anxiety, what is
it going to mean. And also, we’re putting
this in the context of social cultural identities,
all of the range of identities that Dr. Rivera was
talking about earlier, and helping students
at a younger age begin to think about, well,
with my individual unique set of intersecting identities,
what strengths can I draw upon to prepare me emotionally for
the transition that’s coming? And relatedly, also in the
context of those identities, where might I anticipate
some of these barriers? And most importantly, what can
I do when I encounter them? What are the skills? And we’re working with these–
and these students are amazing. They give me so much
hope for the future because they love
these discussions, they’re learning these
skills, and they’re going out into the world
on college campuses all over the country
with a stronger level of emotional preparedness
for this transition.