Jessie Laughlin, LSW – Youth First Social Worker at Edgewood Junior High School in Monroe County
Q: What called you to become a social worker?
A: I started college as an education major. During early field experience, I crossed paths with a school social worker. In learning more about their role, I knew that could be a great fit for me as I’ve always been an advocate for both mental health and education. Being a social worker allows me to work in so many different capacities; counselor, advocate, educator, community resource.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: It is an honor when a student lets you into their world. It’s really special to see a moment when a student overcomes an obstacle, finding and using their natural strengths and putting into play the skills they’ve been working hard on. I love that I get to be part of nurturing a student’s mental health so they can best learn and grow.
Q: What does mental health mean to you?
A: Every being has mental health, and it’s complex and changes day to day. The stigma around mental health is really unfortunate, and I hope that one day everyone will treat mental health like physical health; just another part of our holistic self-care.
Q: How has social work influenced the way you view younger generations?
A: I have seen the power and change that comes with youth having at least one positive adult in their life, who cares for them and is looking out for them. That one person can make such a difference in their outcomes.
Younger generations are eager to learn about the world, movements, injustice, and change. I’m really hopeful their awareness, engagement, and discussion surrounding mental health is moving our outlook and treatment of mental health in the right direction. Youth mental health seems to follow trends and is ever changing, depending on what is going on in the world and our culture.
Q: Which mental health tools/strategies do you think are the most impactful or effective for students?
A: I am a big fan of mindfulness strategies. It’s helpful and effective for most people in many different situations; self-care, attention/focus concerns, stress and anxiety, self-esteem, anger, etc.