Flash passes offer important breaks: Students with mental illness gain relief system

Beatriz Olivares

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Photo courtesy of Beatriz Olivares.

Seniors Ayana Gaskins and Krithi Sriram leave the counseling wing satisfied. Flash passes have been widely appreciated by students with mental health issues and/or acute stress.

Many mental health disorders like depression and anxiety are prevalent among adolescents, and as one of the top schools in the state, WJ certainly houses many of its own affected students. WJ understands that many of its students suffer from problems like these and have accommodations for students who need them, like the flash pass.

The flash pass is for students who have a documented mental illness like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety or depression and can be used to avoid panic attacks or to talk to a guidance counselor if necessary.

If a student is in class and they start to feel unwell, they may show the pass to the teacher and leave the class to go talk to a guidance counselor or go to the school library.

Even though teachers are supposed to let a student leave the classroom if there’s an emergency, most teachers don’t actually permit it, or a student is afraid to ask for fear they’ll get in trouble.
Guidance counselor Joe Thompson shares how the flash pass helps with that.

“So with the flash pass, all the teachers are notified of students {with} flash passes,” Thompson said, “and so teachers know that if a students says they need to use their flash passes, to let them go and there’s no interaction or drama.”

A student may use the flash pass in any situation during the school day, but if they miss a class or something important it is on them to make it up. Most students have found them to be very helpful in tough situations.

“I use it around twice a week or so,” sophomore Laura Mackie said. “I normally go to the counselors or maybe the bathroom.”

Mental health plays a pivotal role in young people’s lives, to be a part of many especially students with much pressure hanging over them. It can affect people’s personal, social and academic lives in impactful, and often discouraging ways, but WJ provides these flash passes available in order to alleviate the load some people may feel.