Latin Hires Outside Counselors


A sign advertising the Light on Anxiety service outside Ms. Knoche’s office.

On May 10, Latin sent an email to the school community announcing that they have hired an outside counseling company, Light On Anxiety, to further support students. In her letter, Upper School Director Kristine Von Ogden said, “This is a challenging time for many of our students for many reasons.”

Light On Anxiety is a clinical institute dedicated to offering clients with accessible and practical Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)-based mental health treatments to help them work through stress, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

The additional counseling service was provided at no cost to Latin families and was offered to both parents/guardians and students. In-person support sessions were available up to two times per week and could be booked through an online booking site or via walk-in. The service was available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from May 11 through June 1. All sessions were held in room 252, a private room near the Middle School end of the second floor bridge, and an informed consent form must have been completed prior to the appointment or on-site in the case of a walk-in if the student is under 18.

But what were the “many reasons” the school decided to hire outside counselors? Already midway through finals week, students have been studying day in and day out to prepare for their exams.

According to a study performed by MentalHelp in 2016, 31% of students claimed finals were the main source of stress throughout the year. One reason for increased mental health support at Latin could be to help students better cope with the stress generated by finals week.

Jane Knoche, an Upper School counselor who works primarily with 9th and 11th grade students, said, “I think finals week can be stressful for students because it’s a culmination of the whole year.”

Similarly, Heidi Grathouse, a licensed clinical psychologist in Illinois with a private practice specializing in CBT, agreed. “In general, students feel a lot of pressure and stress. Part of it is the accumulation of many tests all at once because it’s the end of the school year.”

This past week, the Upper School counselors and Mental Health Alliance of Latin put on an event to increase awareness about available coping mechanisms such as stress balls and fidget toys in consideration of the upcoming finals week. They opened a classroom a couple of hours a day where students could stop by to talk, play games, and take a break from their studying.

Payton Rice, a sophomore, said, “I haven’t been stressed, though I only take five classes, so it could be different for others.” Stress around finals week may not be the driving reason for the service.

It is also possible that the school acquired additional mental health services to provide students some extra support as they cope with a student death from earlier this year.

Latin’s counselors were unable to provide exact information regarding how many students used this new resource.

Whatever the reasons behind the implementation of the service may be, Ms. Knoche said, “[the counselors] want to make sure that students have the support in place that they need.”