The Reality of Mental Health, School, and the Arts


Elena Murrieta

An artistic representation of how I view the human brain.

Elena Murrieta, Editor in Chief

As the years pass and the world evolves, people are realizing how important good mental health is and its effects on a person. Las Vegas Academy (LVA) is not only known for its amazing programs, but also for its environment. LVA has a good environment and is free spirited and is accepting of all students.

Attending an arts school can create a variety of challenges. For students of the arts, it is an amazing opportunity to attend school but being a performer can cause a person to struggle with their mental health, making balancing life and school difficult. Students of all majors deal with various problems associated with school life while pushing themselves to be better at what they do and to get the spotlight they deserve. This effort can cause burnout, anxiety, stress, and imposter syndrome.

Though every person is different, there is a common concept they all share: they want and need to succeed and achieve the best that is inside themselves. Attending an art school is an amazing opportunity, but it may come at a cost that not everyone considers.

Trinity Bennett, a senior vocal major at LVA. (Elena Murrieta)

Trinity Bennett, a senior vocal major, has been an LVA student for the past four years. Now, as she is nearing the end of her last year here, and understanding the challenges of being an LVA student, Bennett feels good mental health should be of concern to everyone, students and staff alike.

When asked what Bennett thought of LVA caring about mental health they said, “I feel like they do, but they could definitely do a better job, especially like individual teachers instead of the counselors and everything else, because the counselors have so much going on”. “But I feel like a lot of teachers, individually, don’t take mental health seriously.”

Enrollment in an arts school offers a different environment compared to a regular public high school.

“It’s like a line. If you don’t do this, you can’t do something else. Like with trip eligibility and everything like that, as well. I feel like if individual teachers took it more seriously and handled it better on their own, when a student comes to them and talks to them about it, then it would make life a lot easier for students, as well the counselors and the social workers,” said Bennett.

This year, the LVA citizenship policy is being enforced by the staff; this tracks a student’s progress and everything a student does, causes students to feel stressed if everything counts against them. Although the values and principles of the new program are in effect, LVA staff members are working to fix any bumps that may exist or come up, especially those that may have caused or are causing negative feedback from both the students and the staff.

When asked if there were any other problems that affected students Bennett brought up the citizenship policy. “It’s more focused on social workers and counselors, which if a student doesn’t know to go to one of them or doesn’t do that, then they’ll very easily slip through the cracks with their mental health,” said Bennett. As it is in many situations, it is up to the student to reach out to a staff member since there won’t be a formal report of the problem,  though LVA tries its best to help all students with whatever situation they are facing. Everyone undergoes different emotional experiences, and knowing a person isn’t alone can really affect how a person thinks if they are struggling.

“I feel like the student community really affects mental health, but the students themselves are more understanding about that kind of thing compared to the faculty,” said Bennett. She added, “I feel like the school needs to treat it as important as it’s talked about, because it’s talked about more than it’s helped and handled. They like to advertise things like, we’re here to talk with you and all that kind of stuff, but it’s really intimidating to talk with counselors, especially when they are always like coming into classes and telling us how busy they are. It makes it more or seem like our issues aren’t as important.” To some students, it can be intimidating to talk to a teacher or a social worker if they are struggling with mental health. It is important to reach out for help and to know what resources are available, since not everyone knows what help can be provided.

Another LVA policy where there could be improvement is the grading system. “I feel like also with the like summative formative, it makes life a lot harder,” said Bennett. “When the entirety of your grade is summative work, and you have to do all of the work that is not for your grade, it doesn’t  seem as fair, because you can only redo assignments one time.” The new grading system, which was introduced and implemented this year, has caused students to disagree.

Bennett also expressed how she had good experiences talking with people about mental health, “I bring it up with people that I am comfortable with, whether that be teachers or, like people that I’m friends with. There can be benefits to asking about how you feel, and if you aren’t comfortable with that, there are programs outside of school that can assist, as well.”

Cole Reveche, a senior vocal major at LVA. (Elena Murrieta )

Cole Reveche is a senior vocal major. When asked how LVA handles mental health, his response was neutral. “The teachers seem to handle things differently depending on the teacher that you have,” said Reveche.

There are, however, two sides to every story. When asked what resources LVA has for students who are struggling, Reveche commented, “ We have access to Safe Voice, but we need more interaction with our counselors and social workers, because it tends to be more focused on academics when you’re talking with your counselor, and not necessarily mental health.”

Additionally, he feels as though there needs to be better accessibility to having guidance with both your academics, and your mental health, since one affects the other.

“I think the student community here at LVA is definitely very diverse and everyone’s very understanding,” Reveche observed. “We all get each other, especially when it does come to mental health. Everyone does have a struggle here and knows how to be cautious with each other when we say certain things but in the end, we all relate.”

He continued, “We do have teachers that you can go too. We have social workers and we have each other.” Then he advised, “Be yourself. It’s diverse here and everyone is accepting. You don’t need to be scared of LVA, it’s a big jump, especially for new incoming freshmen, but it’s gonna be fun. And don’t throw yourself too far deep into the ocean.” And as far as his thoughts about LVA and how it handles mental health, Reveche said, “I think we definitely can improve, but that does take time. But I think we’ll get there eventually.”

Taylir Paulson (not pictured) is a sophomore theater tech major. When asked how Paulson felt about LVA regarding mental health they said, “I think that LVA tries its best to take mental health seriously. LVA sometimes forgets we have eight classes, and majors and homework and outside life to take care of, and sometimes it’s just too much put on us.” Some feel as though they aren’t heard or represented.

Having a good environment is important and is something that affects how students feel both mentally and physically. “The vast majority of students here are very accepting and know how to help if needed, but there’s always a handful who don’t care, but for the most part we do care,” said Paulson. LVA does have a good environment but not every student gets along with each other but for the most part people do care about each other.

Though LVA is a high school,  it is different compared to other schools. “This whole school is a giant competition. It’s very based around your majors and who you surround yourself with,” said Paulson. Since most students at LVA haven’t attended a regular high school they can only imagine what it would be like. Being at LVA is a great opportunity but some may think otherwise.

Katie Ngo a freshman band major at LVA. (Elena Murrieta )

Katie Ngo is a freshman at LVA and this is her first full year here at LVA. This is what they said about how LVA handles mental health, “I’m not that sure because I haven’t been here that long to hear that many stories, but I think they do take it more seriously than other schools,” said Ngo.

When asked what were some things LVA could improve on, Ngo said, “I feel like grades are a big factor and how people like to manage their mental health. So maybe they should be more lenient on things like grades and assign less work.” Some students feel as though having a large amount of work is one of the factors that is contributing to students being stressed and why their mental health is being affected. LVA has resources available to students so they can receive the help they need whenever. Some factors that may add on to students struggling are “stuff going on at home and like, maybe there’s just like a bunch of school stuff that they just don’t understand. But we do have resources that they can use, like we have tutors,” commented  Ngo.

When it comes to LVA’s community and its environment, “I feel like here the community is very nice. If we see anyone struggling, we will help them out. You can even talk to the staff and  it really won’t feel like they are invading your privacy and tell others like your family members or anything that’s going on,”

This is the advice Ngo would give someone who would like to attend LVA. “I think we have to learn to hear like, learn how to manage both our academics and our art that we are passionate about.  It is worth it to be here. If you really like your art, then you should be here. If you don’t, then honestly it’s not the place for you if you’re not because here we take it very seriously,” said Ngo.

Z Casey a senior dance major taking a selfie. (Zephaniah Casey)

Zephaniah “Z” Casey is a senior dance major. Expressing their thoughts about how LVA handles mental health, Casey remarked, “They only really care because they don’t want to get canceled. It seems more PR and less we actually care about the people.”

Their experience while being at LVA, they would like to see, “less workload in general, because that is a heavy factor on a lot of people that are already struggling so much that it’s overbearing and it can make problems worse.”

Concert about workload was a pattern across students interviewed. Having a large workload, in general, can be stressful for students. Though some feel as though the staff aren’t very helpful to students, there is another community that could help people who are struggling, the students.

“The students do amazing,” said Casey. “I feel as though we can’t really trust the administrators or staff. But we have such a well-knit community, and we have support for all groups. I’m pretty sure I can just walk up to someone and just kind of vent to them. They’d be like, okay, slay, but also be understanding.” Having such an accepting and close-knit community is a benefit  about being at LVA. Communication is key and having someone to talk to is a great way to vent and to help not only ones self , but others as well.”

Paul Fagone, a LVA teacher, takes a break at his desk between classes. (Elena Murrieta)

“Throughout my whole career, I’ve never encountered this. It’s an incredible feeling being here!” Paul Fagone is a math teacher at LVA.  These were his thoughts about LVA’s environment, “The environment is incredible. I mean, it seems like, we’re out there, everybody’s pretty much enjoying themselves. They’re happy to be here. I don’t see many arguments at all. I don’t see a lot of that. Yeah, there’s drama but it is not to the level where they take it any further than that. You know, the environment I would say is, it’s a healthy learning environment.” LVA is known for its free spirited environment and how it is different compared to other schools. “It’s very different,” Fagone added. “You have a totally different population and different types of students. It’s not to say that there’s more mental health issues at LVA than other schools. You have creative people, artistic people, a lot of musicians, and with that comes a lot of creativity.”

Having a good environment at LVA is part of what contributes to how students feel and affects students’ mental health, as well. To maintain this environment and knowing what resources are available to a student is important, and staff should have support for them as well. Fagone added that professional development was equally important, “Teachers are people too, and sometimes we can make mistakes, as well. And we have our own personalities, temperaments and such,” said Fagone. Without question, teachers have feelings too, and their mental health should be taken seriously. Everyone’s mental health is important, and having patience, along with compassion, makes a difference.

There are some students who feel as though they have a weight on them, because of all of the activities they engage in, as they strive to do it all. “They’re very talented in their particular field, but they may not have that knack for mathematics,” said Fagone. “They may not have that knack for English or other subjects, and you know, as requirements you have to fulfill all those requirements as well. So that leads to stress and that’s a factor as well.” Academic pursuits can lead to stress, and not knowing how to receive help, when struggling in the class, can lead to students becoming distressed, as well as possibly getting left behind. Knowing how to handle stressful situations is a great skill to have.

“Everybody ends up going through things; it’s just how you deal with it,” Fagone said, reflecting on his experiences as an educator. “We offer as much help as we can as a school and help the students with the social workers and counselors, but ultimately, it’s up to the parent to get a student the help that they need.” Though it’s up to the parents to get their students help, it’s up to the students to receive that help.

The universality of mental health issue from across the country, the National Institute of Mental Health collected data in 2021. This chart illustrates some of the NIH’s findings. Sources like this prove that mental health affects people regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. This is a serious health issue that should not be taken lightly. (National Institute of Health)

In the end, mental health is an important issue among all people, and for students, when emotions and emotional strain is at the highest level of their lives, mental health remains a topic that requires serious concern and serious study for years to come, not just on the LVA campus, but nearly everywhere.

If you or someone you know has experienced any feelings that are related to mental health issues, please contact one of the following agencies for professional assistance:

Caring for your Mental Health (National Institute of Health)

SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-4357

Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988

Crisis Support Services of Nevada 1-800-273-8255

 Statistics of Mental Illness (National Institute of Health)