Q&A with the Psychologist/Psychiatrist from the Boys’ and Girls’ Convocations



All images are derived from Dr. Fallucco and Dr. D’Arienzo’s presentations.

The Boys’ and Girls’ Convocations regarding mental health took place over the last few weeks to provide advice for difficult situations regarding mental health. The boys had a psychologist, Dr. D’Arienzo, and the girls had a psychiatrist, Dr. Fallucco, speak to them.

1. What are the benefits of speaking to a single gender?
D’Arienzo’s Response: It is often difficult for high school students to be completely genuine and open to these types of discussions when both their friends are present and the opposite sex is present both of whom they are typically trying to impress.
Fallucco’s Response: We know that young women have a much higher risk for both depression and anxiety than do young men.  In addition, young women are more likely to struggle with certain issues (such as body image, self-esteem, peer acceptance) than their male peers.  As a group of young women, we can speak openly about some of these issues.
2. What are the best ways for a student to help a peer out if they are facing anxiety or depression?
D’Arienzo’s Response: The most important step is awareness of dramatic shifts in moods or behaviors of friends or schoolmates. The second step is to talk and ask questions when you notice significant changes in a friend. Talking should occur in a quite and private location. You need to set the tone, use open body language, and be relaxed and empathetic. The third step is to get them talking and you listening without minimizing what they are experiencing. The fourth step is to immediately reach out to an adult, teacher, parent or school counselor, or other professional to ensure the person gets the help they need. The fifth and final step is to follow up with them when you see them and check in with them in a compassionate, interested, and calm manner to ensure they are getting the help they need.
Fallucco’s Response: Use the “Share, Care, Ask” approach.  When people struggle with these issues, they can feel really alone and even ashamed.  One of the best things you can do, as a friend, is to reach out to your classmates who are struggling and let them know that you have noticed that something is different (Share), that you care about them (CARE), and then ask how you can help (ASK).
3. When schools begin mental health and wellness initiatives, in your experience, what mistakes do they make? What have you seen schools do well to address mental health issues?
D’Arienzo’s Response: Often there is some funding available, or a tragedy has occurred, or a great speaker is heard about and then there is a single initiative event and then things go back to normal, meaning no more mental health programs…until the next catastrophe. Schools do well when they build upon program after program and begin mentoring and peer coaching initiatives that teach interpersonal skills like kindness and emotional intelligence.
Fallucco’s Response: It is so inspiring to see that the students at Bolles are interested in promoting mental health across the campus. For a school initiative such as this to be effective, it really has to be student-driven and student-focused.  I think this increases buy-in and makes the students feel more open to talking about this subject.