Catholic High School for Boys Principal Matt Dempsey weighs in on mental health, life after graduation and more.

Q: Why is it important to prioritize mental health — specifically in an all-boys high school environment?

MD: Mental health is particularly significant during the formative high school years, a time for shaping identities and values. This generation is the most connected — but also the most disconnected — in history. The prevalence of cell phones, social media and screens means our teens have more ways to disconnect from vital face-to-face relationships than ever before.  

Q: Students can be reluctant to seek help. How do you ensure that mental health resources are accessible and destigmatized?

MD: Creating a supportive and open environment for discussing mental health is critical to normalizing it. We are fortunate to have a full-time licensed certified social worker on staff. In addition to working with our students, he’s the driving force in shaping our school’s cultural attitude toward seeking help.

Q: How should schools prepare students mentally for challenges beyond graduation, ensuring a smooth transition to higher education or the workforce?

MD: They must learn resiliency over time. A high school must be a place that allows for soft failures when a student comes up short without permanent damage to his well-being. Kids need to build on these kinds of experiences to be ready for the challenges beyond high school.

6300 Father Tribou St.
Little Rock, AR 72205