Being Mindful of Mental Health

Katie Keovongphet, Reporter

According to, North Garland High School is ranked as the second best high school in GISD. Being such an academically competitive school full of high achievers, it’s not a surprise when students begin to feel mentally or emotionally overwhelmed. 

“First step is just walking in the door,” counselor Jacqueline Villalobos said. “Just take that risk and know that we’re here to help the students and be able to open up their mind to have that conversation with the counselor.”

The absence of our school’s former LIGHT counselor, the counselor that responds to the personal issues of the student, has brought upon confusion within the school, along with changes district-wide.

“They’re not called LIGHT counselors anymore. They’re called Responsive Counselors, [and] there’s a large group of them,” Villalobos said. “The Responsive Counselor deals more with the crisis, if something very traumatic has happened in the student’s life.”

The Responsive Counselor visits every Friday to check in on students, and while the counselors’ office might seem intimidating for newcomers, it acts as a safe place in the school that welcomes both teens and adults. 

“Sometimes it’s just coming in and being OK and just being. Instead of having to pour out your heart, it’s a safe place,” new counselor Mary Brieske said. “So hopefully within time, the kids know that they can come and they know that they can be OK here.”

Brieske strongly encourages all students to reach out to their counselors for assistance in order to keep a healthy balance between school life and personal life. 

“I always tell my kids, ‘If you’re not emotionally OK, none of the other stuff matters!’ Being a doctor, being in Pre-Med, getting those scholarships… none of that matters if you’re not OK.”

Brieske considers visiting the counselors to be beneficial because it shows students that they aren’t alone when experiencing difficult times in their lives and that it doesn’t mean you’re weak to ask for help. 

“It’s OK to have a rough period of time. It’s OK to go through a situation that is rough and that affects us emotionally and mentally and academically. It’s OK to get help from time to time,” Brieske said.