The Smoke Signal, MSJ's Official Newspaper


Mental Health Visibility Interviews

By: Staff Writers Rajorshi Chatterjee, Tanvi Deshmukh, Priyanka Shah, Arushi Singh, & Lucas Zhang



“Positive impact we hope to make includes assisting eligible students access curriculum by ameliorating or reducing mental health challenges that might preclude involvement and progress for students. We also hope to support our pre-referral teams to offer psychoeducational interventions, supports and clarification of student’s potential needs and program eligibility. We hope to consult with staff as needed with regard to students’ needs to afford increased access to curriculum and build a positive community.” — Michelle Goddard

“I’m not sure I was inspired by any one thing to do this work. My third grade teacher was influential on me as a female professional in general. When I decided to study psychology and then decided to work where the students are, school psychology became a natural endeavor and I’m grateful to many mentors I have had along the way.”— Michelle Goddard

“What inspires me are the individuals I work with, their dignity, autonomy and desire for goals in their lives.” — Michelle Goddard

“Tips: Keep good boundaries between yourself and others, engage in activities that are self-regulatory (learn to regulate own emotions), and practice self-love (which includes awareness, acceptance, trust and productivity on behalf of yourself).” — Michelle Goddard

“I make monthly goals in four domains of living, journal regularly, and practice those three tips I just named. It’s similar to dental health-avoid sugar, brush regularly and see your dentist, but in mental health-it’s self-regulation, self-love and healthy personal boundaries. No one is 100% on dental health or mental health, but we can strive to make it a routine.” — Michelle Goddard



“I was working as a case manager at a child advocacy center, and I saw a lot of students who were struggling with personal or school [issues]. I knew I wanted to try and help them more, and the best way to do that was to get into a school, so I can have more face-to-face time and be there for students … who need help.” — Counselor Ashley Augster 

“My biggest tip is to know that you’re not alone and there are people who can listen and help.” — Counselor Ashley Augster 



“As a teacher, I try to build relationships with my students and try to get to know them and what they are dealing with. I hope that I can help people understand that even if bad things happen, it’s not going to ruin your whole life.” — Social Studies Teacher Joseph Usrey 

“A lot of people still feel like mental illnesses or mental health struggles are a weakness. [Instead], we should see them as fighting a battle.” — Social Studies Teacher Joseph Usrey 

“It’s really hard, but you need to take time to unwind. Everyone has a lot of tasks … [and] family pressure, but if you allow yourself space to unwind, you tend to do better on tasks that are important because you’re not frazzled.” — Social Studies Teacher Joseph Usrey 

“I paint miniatures, and that’s a big way I maintain my mental health because it is something I can focus on that’s small … and it gives me those endorphins in my brain that I’m successful at something.” — Social Studies Teacher Joseph Usrey

“If I have an issue, I’m not typically someone who holds their problems inside. For me, the easiest thing is to talk it out and express myself, … and that definitely helps me de-stress by airing out my problems so they don’t sit and fester.” — Science Teacher Oana Seremeta 

“Every weekend, either Saturday or Sunday or both, there was a day that was dedicated for the entire family. We all go hiking, surfing, biking, museums or whatever they want to do. Seeing a movie if it was a rainy day or just playing board games, but trying to avoid screens and go outdoors, was all. And it worked for me and my kids.” — Peer Resource Teacher Herveline Sartori



“I think [maintaining your mental health is] about prioritizing your work and more than just prioritizing, I think you have to change the way that you work … you really do have to learn how to work smarter and not harder … to be more efficient and get your work done a lot faster.” — Class of 2021 Alumna Ananya Srinivasan

“It’s really hard to like, openly say that you need help … and so it’s really important to just be more empathetic about that … by being more empathetic, you’re actively not contributing to more mental health harm, if that makes any sense.” — Class of 2023 Alumna Ananya Srinivasan


Clubs/Student Organization Affiliated

“I signed up [as a Youth Wellness Ambassador] because of the constant stress I’ve seen Mission students, especially my peers, go through, and how it inevitably leads to some mental health issues.” — City of Fremont Youth Wellness Ambassador 2022-23 Junior Arav Tyagi

“There are not always telltale signs of people not doing well because a lot of people are not doing well, but the way that they are perceived socially is like they’re happy and doing okay. The warning signs are a lot more obvious than what most people understand. I feel like that is something that needs to be discussed a lot more.” –– Peer Resource President Senior Anushree Marimuthu, 12


Wellness Center

“The reason we are here is to have the kids engage in something different, more creative. Going back to preschool days where you had a good time, you did lots of arts, crafts, and had fun, so I think you just [need to] relive and revive those days and do stuff that you like to do.” — Wellness Center Coordinator Brinda Parekh

“My aim is to help them engage and … focus on the good things. So that’s what I want to do. And that’s why I’m here.” — Wellness Center Coordinator Brinda Parekh



“If I have a really stressful day, I’ll make sure to have some time to either go to the gym, get dinner with my family, or hang out with a friend.” — Agrima Jain, 11 

“I remind myself to take breaks and do things I enjoy, like watching TV and hanging out with my friends.” — Mahi Palan, 11

“While it’s good to have high expectations for yourself, you shouldn’t stress yourself out and negatively impact your physical health for achievements like higher grades because you can be just as successful while remaining healthy.” — Rishabh Shah, 10

“I sometimes like to take breaks from stressful tasks by pausing my work and hanging out with my family.” — Rishabh Shah, 10

“I want the public to know that it can often be hard for people that struggle through mental health issues to speak up. I went through extremely severe mental health struggles in the past, but nobody ever knew because I generally kept it to myself. It’s important to always be understanding of one another.” — Adwithi Yarida, 12

“I would say that it’s better to release and let go of your emotions than just bottle it up. Obviously you should try to express yourself in a healthy way, but sometimes things are tough. Sleeping early definitely helps me maintain some sanity.” — Sanjana Srivatsa, 10

“For students to maintain mental health, I believe that they should take breaks every hour and do something fun away from school. I believe that the public should know about mental health [and] that you can seek help and it’s okay to do that. To maintain my own mental health I play the piano when feeling stressed and it calms me down.” — Arya Marker, 9


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