New Wellness Center


Eliana Aschheim

Students who are feeling tense or upset will soon have a new center on campus where they can come to relieve stress and learn self-care strategies. Cupertino High School is opening a Wellness Center in the 2023 spring semester as a calming space for students to support their emotional well-being. 

 “The whole point is to make sure students are equipped to go throughout their day. So as much as possible, we want them to come here. Take a moment, take a breath, check in with themselves and then be able to go back to class,” said Jackie Corso, CHS Assistant Principal.

At the door, a liaison will assess students’ needs as they come in. Although administrators are still working out the details, students will be able to choose among different activities to help them feel better. Options will likely include breathing exercises and puzzles, along with information about mental wellbeing. 

A new therapist, hired by Santa Clara County Office of Education, will be stationed in the center to provide support for students who need immediate help. Students may also be referred to school-based therapists Christopher Hickey and Denise Salin in the main office. 

Another proposal is to create support groups for students about issues they may share, like LGBTQ, grief or domestic violence, said Hickey. Groups would be formed based on students’ need for them. 

To use the center, located in rooms 214 and 215, students can talk to their teacher and be excused from class to go there. They can stay for an allotted time period before returning to their day. The center is for “improving student access to behavioral health supports and to spaces where they can calm themselves, self regulate, learn some new strategies that they can carry with them,” said Corso.

The center is meant to be quiet and nondisruptive. “You can choose how you want to check in with yourself or take a moment, but it’s not a hangout place. It’s not a place to check social media, that sort of thing. And social media is not good for social emotional well-being, too,” said Corso.

She also explained it is intended to be a drop-in space. If students depend on the center and often visit it, the liaison will connect them with long-term solutions, like seeing a therapist regularly.

In addition, it will streamline therapists’ work. “Nowadays, people just come walking up to my door, and that can be a little disruptive,” Hickey said. “[The center] will make my life a little easier in the end, and students also because we won’t be interrupted all the time.”    

CHS is fortunate to be the first school in FUHSD and one of the first in the county to have a wellness center. The idea of the center was initiated and funded by the county. It will serve as a model for officials to implement in other schools as part of an effort to improve mental health resources for students.

The CHS and county administrators of the program value student input into many aspects of the center, like furniture, events, and promotion. In the coming months, Youth Advisory Groups will be formed to assist in planning. One group will be involved in creating the center and choosing activities, while another group will continually advise the center for long term programs and partnerships. Corso said she wanted to “make sure that it’s created in large part by students… to make sure it best addresses the needs of our students.”

The wellness center comes at a time when students have increased mental health needs due to the pandemic. Society has begun to accept mental health as a priority. “The model of a Wellness Center is kind of the standard nowadays,” said Hickey, “I think the time is right. I think the culture can hold something like that.”