Prosper works to support student mental health

Counselor Stephanie Clayton reflects on her position, ‘Suicide Prevention Week’
Located in the lower house, Student Support Counselor Stephanie Clayton shows her new office. Clayton spends her time at PHS helping students navigate mental health issues and guiding them into a successful school year. This is her second year at the high school and district.
Located in the lower house, Student Support Counselor Stephanie Clayton shows her new office. Clayton spends her time at PHS helping students navigate mental health issues and guiding them into a successful school year. This is her second year at the high school and district.
Lauren Clayton

When crisis strikes,  Stephanie Clayton wants to help.

After obtaining her master’s degree in psychology from West Texas A&M University, Clayton got a job with Child Protective Services. She then transitioned to work as a school counselor and eventually established her own private counseling practice in Amarillo, Texas. After moving to Prosper with her family two years ago, she became Prosper High School’s first student support counselor.

This generation of teens is facing what the American Psychological Association has dubbed a ‘mental health crisis.’ Diagnoses of mental disorders in teens have risen over the past few decades, as have reports of self-harm and suicidal thoughts among adolescents. While these trends are concerning, Prosper High School is taking steps in the right direction. In 2019, PHS introduced Hope Squad, a worldwide peer-to-peer suicide prevention program. Last year, the school hired their first student support counselor, Stephanie Clayton.

“I missed working in the schools so much, ” Clayton said. “So, I think that this is probably what I will do until I retire because I love it.”

While all PHS students are assigned a counselor based on their last name, counselors have to organize schedules, send transcripts, and work with graduation requirements. Clayton, on the other hand, specializes in supporting students’ mental and emotional health.

“Alpha counselors have so many kids in their alphabet,” counselor Megan Howell said. “She’s able to easily jump in and help us with something that might be an emergency or a difficult situation.”

This Monday, Sept. 10, marks the beginning of Suicide Prevention Week. In collaboration with the other counselors and Hope Squad, Clayton organizes the week’s activities.

“We’re going to talk about some myths and facts about suicide, and also what you can do if you’re worried about a friend,” Clayton said. “The week is really focused around connection and building a positive school environment.”

Clayton said one common myth exists about suicide: that talking about it will put the idea in people’s heads.

“That’s absolutely not the case,” Clayton said. “In fact, the more that we talk about it, the more likely people are to reach out for help.”

Prosper wants to encourage students who may be struggling to reach out for help, as well as provide them with outside resources and support. Many students are not aware of the resources available to them through the school. Information on suicide prevention will go out in the district-wide newsletter, the parent newsletter, and the staff newsletter next week. Students can talk peer-to-peer with Hope Squad or get professional help from their counselors. Counselors may also recommend Children’s Health telehealth counseling, a resource available to all Prosper ISD students. For more information and additional resources, visit the PISD mental health page.

If there’s one thing I could say to students, I would just tell them that they are not alone

— Stephanie Clayton

Stephanie Clayton’s daughter, Lauren Clayton, is a senior at Prosper High School.

“I think just watching her has helped me realize what the world looks like for a teenager because I’m so close to it,” Clayton said. “It worked out really great that we were both on the same campus.”

Lauren, who was a new student at PHS her junior year, also gets insight into her mom’s world through their close relationship.

“I’ve seen her transform so many students from these introverted kids who don’t know how to cope with high school into just, like, blooming students who are willing to join clubs and socialize with other students,” Lauren said. “She’s just really good at her job.”

The student support counselor offers one more bit of heartfelt advice to kick-start Suicide Prevention Week.

“If there’s one thing I could say to students, I would just tell them that they are not alone,” Clayton said. “Not only are their friends and family here to support them, but we are as staff. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t care about them.”

Clayton urges anyone who might be struggling — or knows someone who is — to reach out.

“We’re here for your education, yes, but we’re also here because we care and we want to help,” Clayton said. “Please ask for help, because if you get connected to the right help, most people can get better.”

 

 

Leave a Comment
Donate to Eagle Nation Online
$300
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Prosper High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Tess Gagliano, Executive Design Editor
Tess Gagliano is a Senior at Prosper High School and currently serves as an Executive Design Editor for Eagle Nation Online and Eagle Nation Times. Outside of school she enjoys reading, writing, and working on her own art. She also plays club volleyball, makes jewelry, and helps take care of foster cats and other animals on the family farm.
Jake Radcliffe, Assistant Online Editor
Jake Radcliffe is a junior, and this is his third year as a staff member of Eagle Nation Online. This year, he will be serving as an Assistant Editor. He is a member of the A Cappella and Chamber choirs, the vice president of Mu Alpha Theta and the Asian Student Association and the historian of La Société Honoraire de Français. Outside of school, Radcliffe enjoys singing, reading, hanging out with friends, playing video games and being outdoors.
Lauren Clayton, Reporter
Lauren Clayton is a senior at Prosper High School, fulfilling her second year as a member of the Eagle Nation Online staff. She is a reporter with a passion for environmental and mental health stories. Outside of school she enjoys writing fantasy, drawing, and caring for her pet uromastyx. After graduating she plans to attend UT Arlington and pursue a degree in Herpetology.
Donate to Eagle Nation Online
$300
$2000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All Eagle Nation Online Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *