Zena Andreani (left), assistant director of StarVista's Crisis Center, stands with Crisis Center staff and volunteers in downtown San Mateo in 2021. Courtesy StarVista.Posted Dec. 9, 2022
StarVista helps connect teens with much-needed counseling services
by Zena Andreani / Contributor
Lucy is 16 years old and attends a public high school in San Mateo County. She moved to this county after her mother separated from her father one year ago. She lives full-time with her mother and has not had any contact with her father since they moved.
In school, her teachers and counselors noticed a change in her disposition and made several referrals to the wellness counselor. Each time, Lucy (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) resisted speaking with counselors and said that she has "nothing to share."
Lucy's health class recently received the StarVista's Crisis Centers Suicide Prevention Presentation. Throughout the presentation, Lucy appeared uncomfortable moving frequently in her chair, taking long exhales, and asked to leave the presentation several times. During a small group activity, the facilitator pulled Lucy to the side of the room and verbalized their observations. Lucy's eyes began to water as she explained the information was "too hard to hear" and "felt too real."
The facilitator offered emotional support and offered to talk with Lucy more after the presentation was over. In this conversation, the facilitator opened up about her parents' separation. She said that she wanted to talk more about it but felt scared and anxious about opening up. The facilitator helped Lucy understand the benefits of talking with someone and encouraged Lucy to make an appointment with her school wellness counselor.
The facilitator also provided her with additional crisis center resources, such as teen crisis services, which is available by chat and text at sanmateocrisis.org , and the crisis line where she could speak confidentially about her struggles.
Lucy said she was glad she has many options for support and said the presentation helped her feel more open to talk about her own experiences.
StarVista is one of this year's beneficiaries of The Almanac's Holiday Fund. Donations are divided equally among this year's 10 nonprofit organizations and 100% of the funds raised go directly to the recipients. Donations to the Holiday Fund can be made at almanacnews.com/holiday_fund .
StarVista serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County every year, including children, youth, and families, through its counseling, case management, skill development, and crisis prevention programs. StarVista's Crisis Center provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services throughout the county, including its 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 650-579-0350. For information, go to star-vista.org or call 650-591-9623.
Zena Andreani is the assistant director of StarVista's Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Center program.