As mental health becomes a bigger part of daily conversations, teens are feeling more comfortable talking about it.

“The data really does speak for itself, even starting back last September, the amount of personal social visits  was well over 600 for the year,” said John Handley High school director of counseling Amber Mungavin. 

According to the CDC, a nationwide survey of high school students in the united states found 16 percent of students reported seriously consider suicide. Winchester Public Schools report an increase in students seeking mental health services in the past year including an increase in suicide risk assessments.

“1 being the lowest, 10 being the highest just to see where they are in having those suicidal thoughts, and seeing if they need to have a further evaluation,” said Mungavin.

John Handley High School director of counseling Amber Mungavin says the reasons that cause students to stress and seek counseling vary. 

“Being on top, having straights a’s getting into a good college, having a transcript that stands out,” said Mungavin. 

The schools system says having staff that are prepared on all  levels to provide the best mental health services even to those in middle and elementary school is priority.

 “What our young people are facing today is a 24 hr a day 7 day a week social presence and judgment that comes with that,” said Judy McKiernan interim, coordinator of student services.  

Interim, coordinator of student services Judy McKiernan says that although the number of students taking suicide risk assessments may seem alarming, she’s glad that students are seeking help. 

“Unfortunately, its taken some very tragic incidences for kids, and for adults, for family members and community members to say hey we need to talk about this,” said McKiernan.

Aside from the counselors making themselves more visible than ever before, she’s also glad that the community is starting to shed the stigma and be supportive of mental health care and those who need it. 

“We have them 7.5 hours a day so we need our larger community to partner with us and I’m seeing that,” said McKiernan.

Winchester Public Schools say after counselors conduct a suicide risk assessment, school psychologist and community board resources are used as needed.