Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, students face challenges on an unprecedented scale — from student exposure on social media, school, and home.
Schools are now finding that one way to combat those pressures is to create resources and safe spaces for students on-campus to re-focus the mind and get students back on track.
Here in the Coastal Bend, Veteran Memorial High School created a space for students to go to when there seems no other place to turn.
The campus' new room is called Bella's room; where students go to de-stress.
It's named after senior Bella Trevino, who came to school administrators with the idea of a space for students to cope with their mental-health issues.
It's a way to give back to her school.
With the help of her school principal and counselors, an old conference room at the school was transformed into Bella's room.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, 1 in 6 kids in the U.S. aged 6-17 experience a mental-health disorder each year.
"I have anxiety disorder, so I usually have panic attacks in class," said senior Alyna Cuellar.
Cuellar said the resources within the safe space help her deal with her anxiety.
"This is very similar to how my room is and that is why I like it — because it's quiet. It has a fish tank, and it has little things for my hands, which is nice," she said as she played with an acupuncture ring.
According to Mental Health America, children's mental-health issues can go far beyond typical school struggles, including battles with depression and anxiety.
"I want this place to be an extension of their home or maybe of a home they don't have," said Veterans Memorial High School counselor Sarah Baumgartner.
Much thought was put into the design of the room. Floor pillows, bean bag chairs, a couch to relax, a table for drawing, soft lighting and a space for students to unwind from the daily stresses of life.
"These are affirmations, so for students who need just that reminder of who they are, they can flip through them, read them out loud, read them to themselves," she said, pulling cards from a bin. "So it gives them that strength to know who they are.
Baumgartner said ideally, after 15-20 minutes in the room, the student will feel more settled.
"Sit back and focus on how you feel as a person," Cuellar said. "Everything that you are going through as a person is completely valid, every emotion that you feel is valid."
School officials said they just released the information about Bella's room this week and have had 15-20 students already interested in using the safe space.
The room is unofficially opened as the school is reaching out to the community for more items, and plans to have an official opening before the school year ends.
To donate items to the room, click here.