Local high school opens wellness center for stressed-out students: "They're dealing with a lot"

A New Jersey high school opened a wellness center to help students navigate mental and emotional struggles felt by teens in their formative years. 

Backed by a federal grant, the wellness center at Collingswood High School is staffed by licensed counselors ready to assist "overwhelmed" and "stressed out" students. 

"Almost every student who walks in the space has been overwhelmed by something, stressed out by something," Wellness Center Director Kristin O'Lexy told FOX 29. 

The center is a cell phone-free space with welcoming pastel-colored walls and soft background music. It's also stocked with snacks and tea to help frazzled teens unwind.


"The amount of pressure kids are under – social media, academic and family life – there’s just a lot, they’re dealing with a lot," O'Lexy said. 

One such hardship that has been common among students is becoming re-acclimated with the outside world following COVID-19 lockdowns that shuttered schools. 

"Being online and looking at black boxes for months, expecting it to be connected was particularly hard for me," Layla Speerman, a student, said.

For students who lean on other emotional and mental outlets to cope with stress, the wellness center has been an additional safe space to open up and learn.

Jaylin Meltor, a student-athlete, says sports are normally his go-to stress reliever, but the wellness center has helped him become engaged with other students going through stressful situations.

"If you give students a space to talk, they will, it's one of my favorite things about this job," O'Lexy said.

The success of the program has inspired other schools in the area to explore opening up their own wellness centers.