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January 27, 2022

Guest View: A mental health check-in

The end of a semester is a stressed time for all our students. From tests to essays to presentations and projects, Gilroy students are being put through their paces. 

My student interns who go to Gavilan College regale me with stories of all their end-of-semester horror and success stories. What I told them is advice that could be helpful to your kids: these tests and projects are not really tests of skill or proficiency. These are tests to stress our students’ mental endurance and see how far we can push them before they break. Studies show plenty of examples where examinations are the antithesis to long-term memory and practical use. 

The best way to be there for our kids, and yourself, is to give them space. If they are feeling stronger negative emotions during this time, that’s OK. If they need more space to indulge in their coping mechanisms for longer than usual? Let them. This doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to do whatever they choose, but give them breathing room and encourage positive coping mechanisms without fear of retribution. Sleeping, eating and positive reinforcement go just as far as a last-second cram session. 

Every year we see studies showing the increase of student deaths (particularly suicide) closer to the end of the semester. While we will never truly know what factors lead to their decision, the stress of final exams only exasperates their mental health issues. If this could be you or someone you know, I am including the Santa Clara County Mobile Crisis Unit phone number and website. On the off chance this is you, then just know that you are not alone. You are loved and you can make it through these trying times we are all in. 

On behalf of my family and my office, I wish every student out there the best of luck on their final works for the semester’s end. May everyone get the grade they want. If they don’t, I wish them luck in the next semester and that they can still be proud of the work they accomplish.

Santa Clara County Mobile Crisis Unit Phone Number: 1-800-704-0900. Website:

Zach Hilton is a Gilroy City Councilmember.

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