Lloydminster Comprehensive High School counsellor, Meagan Utke, spoke to the Rotary Club of Lloydminster lunch meeting on Monday about school counselling programs. GEOFF LEE LSS PHOTO
You could call Meagan Utke an adult teen angel.
Utke provides full-time personal counselling services to troubled Grades 10-12 students at Lloydminster Comprehensive High School.
“I work with kids on anxiety, depression, friendships, relationships, home life, a little bit of everything,” she explained to the Rotary Club of Lloydminster at its Monday luncheon.
She said she came to Rotary “to let everyone know what’s available at the high school and what we are offering the kids.’‘
Utke mainly works with students during one-on-one sessions.
She said parents can phone in and ask for their child to be seen or students can refer themselves, but everything is kept confidential.
“If it’s in the best interest of the child, I always encourage them to let their parents or guardians know,” she added.
Utke has been at the job for about a year and half following six years of counselling with Lloydminster Mental Health and Addictions Services.
“It helped me a lot with my current position,” she said.
She was introduced as having a Bachelor of Human Justice degree from the University of Regina and someone who coaches track and field with plans to coach junior girls basketball this school year.
She has twin five-year-old boys of her own.
Utke is one of three counsellors at LCHS with Leanne Melnechenko being the other full time personal and academic counsellor.
Laurie Mears-Redden is a part-time personal counsellor.
It’s Utke’s belief that teens today are experiencing more pressure than when she was in high school.
“There seems to be a lot more pressure on the kids whether it’s put on by themselves, by their family, their friends – it seems more on the forefront,” she said.
One of the reasons for that she believes is social media.
“All the kids are involved in it, so it’s very rare we don’t have any kids that don’t have any form of social media,” she said.
“It adds to the pressure and lot of kids base their friendships on how many friends they have on their social media sites.”
Utke said for some kids their online friends are all they have; they’ve never met face to face, it’s all through social media.
Utke told Rotary that LCHS also provides a full range of group counselling including an anxiety group she teaches once a week during the academic year.
There is also a girls’ group run by Mears-Redden dealing with issues such as body image, stress relief, nutrition and relationship aggression.
LCHS also has a Hero Club for the gay straight alliance taught by teacher Simon Stang.
In addition Utke noted there is a Red Cross mentorship program that trains kids in Beyond the Hurt anti-bullying program facilitated by herself and Melnechenko.
That program trains about 10 kids a year and the youth vets go into elementary and junior high school to teach the program to Grade 3-7 students.