Mental Health and Drugs

Chandler Zimmerman and Ethan Ragsdel

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MARSHFIELD, Mo. – Drugs are definitely not foreign in the Marshfield High School. They are passed around on a daily basis, whether it be in the parking lot, the bathrooms, or the hallways. In an interview with a student who wished to stay anonymous due to safety reasons (that’s in the drug community),  stated that the drug problem is, “a small deal…  it’s the same people that have already done it.” This person didn’t think the drugs were actually spreading to new people, they believed it was just the same people who have always used drugs. They thought that if the school took a harsher stance it would make them, “want to do it more.”

Talking to the principal gave more light on the subject, Principal Jeff Curley was asked about illegal activities that are happening on campus, and told us that he doesn’t “have a clue, I deal with what gets caught.” Curley stated that he thinks one of the main roots of the problems in our high school are caused by people’s mental health problems, he believes, “as a society we dismiss mental health” and that, “no one helps them walk through” their tragedies. Dealing with these tragedies is another issue, currently we have counselors who are here to talk to the students and help them with life’s issues. After that, Curley said, “We get in touch with other entities that deal with individuals that have mental health issues, and we seek their advice… If legislators and lawmakers spent more time working with businesses who help people who struggle with mental health, that would be a step in the right direction.” Counselors are attempting to take a more active role in students life via emailing appointments, and trying to make things easier for the student. Curley chimed in on this and said, “When situations arise that are immediate, it’s the same business as we always do, attention goes there immediately. It isn’t typically for mental health issues.” He thought the best way to deal with mental health issues in the present is to, “Share with a teacher that you feel comfortable with… If you don’t feel comfortable with a teacher, then tell a counselor or an administrator.”

Counselor Amanda Badgett weighed in on Curley’s stance of combating illegal activities by focusing on mental issues, “The reason people do drugs is because they are trying to mask some sort of pain or deal with pain they are experiencing. Something traumatic has happened to them and they are dealing with a conflict they don’t know how to handle.” She stated that she thinks the way to help people with their conflicts is, “to give people coping skills… in general people have poor coping skills. They get into something and they don’t know what to do so they turn to alcohol and drugs…” Which begs the question of how do you give people coping skills, “It’s really hard because as educators our job is to teach math, science, english and woodworking… Even I’m doing academic things like scholarships, plans of study. I think things start at home and we need to do a better job educating parents. I don’t feel like it is necessarily the school’s role to address.”

Badgett offered her ideas on how to educate parents, “Helping parents understand child development, and when people have mental health issues how to recognize them even when they are children. We need to have professionals come in to our schools from local places like Burrell or Tri-county.” She doesn’t think doing this would take a lot of manpower, “but it takes hours in the day that we just don’t have.” When asked if she thinks state legislators are doing anything to fix the problems, she replied, “No.” and added that she feels they are out of touch with our schools, “I think they need to be in our schools longer than just a day… We have a lot of mental health issues that tax our abilities to educate our kids.” She said a lot of schools have Licensed Professional Counselor and that the school should add these LPC’s in Marshfield. She said, “I think administration is on board.” She says it comes down to the dollars. “Until we have the money, we can’t do that.” She believes, “We handle that to the best of our capabilities, but there’s always room to improve.”