All of the San Francisco Unified School District high schools have Wellness Centers and their doors are always open for teenagers facing issues with mental or physical health.

All of the San Francisco Unified School District high schools have Wellness Centers and their doors are always open for teenagers facing issues with mental or physical health.

Wellness Centers are a haven for students seeking help

Being a teen is challenging and the statistics show it: 75 percent of U.S. teens say that kids their age use drugs to deal with pressures and stress in their lives.

The good news: We're helping thousands of teens each day as they navigate the trials of adolescence. Where? Right in our high schools. Next to math class, just down the hall from the cafeteria or somewhere else safe and easy to get to.

All of the San Francisco Unified School District high schools have Wellness Centers and their doors are always open.

What you will discover

Our wellness staff members are experts on teenagers and their physical and mental health.

If kids feel sick, the Wellness Center nurse will find out what ails them. If they feel sad, lonely or depressed, a therapist will provide one-on-one or group therapy if they need it. If they're being bullied, the social worker will help them put a stop to it. If students or their family need medical care, housing information or other services, the Wellness Center staff will help them find a community-based agency to help.

What if they are just struggling with school work? The Wellness Center staff will help coordinate a plan with teachers to help the student get back on track.

OK, but what if students aren't feeling that bad off, but need a break from everyday teen stress? They know they can go to the Wellness Center, have a cup of tea and return to class re-energized and more able to focus.

One recent high school graduate told me: “The Wellness Center is a safe environment and they made me feel welcome. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for wellness. I would be in jail.”

Getting results

I'm happy to report the work is paying off. SFUSD high school students reported in a recent survey that they have been reducing their alcohol use, and it's no coincidence that an overwhelming majority said that someone really cares about them at their Wellness Center.

It's good to know our kids have a caring and expert wellness team ready to help them.

Richard A. Carranza is the superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

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