A message from Vandrick Hamlin, coordinator of Mental Health and School Safety
Stay safe; stay well.
During these times of stress and uncertainty as we navigate the 2020/2021 school year, the mental health effects of COVID-19
are as essential to address as are the physical health effects. Below you will find resources to support you and your family members during this difficult time.
Human beings like certainty.
We are hard-wired to want to know what is happening and notice things that feel threatening to us. When things feel uncertain or don’t generally feel safe, it’s normal to feel stressed. While there to protect us, this very reaction can cause all sorts of havoc when there is a sense of uncertainty and conflicting information around us.
A large part of anxiety comes from a sense of what we think we should control but can’t. Right now, many of us are worried about COVID-19, known as the “Coronavirus.” We may feel helpless about what will happen or what we can do to prevent further stress. The uncertainty might also connect to our uncertainty about other aspects of our lives or remind us of past times when we didn’t feel safe, and the immediate future was uncertain.
In times like these, our mental health can suffer. We don’t always know it’s happening. You might feel more on edge than usual, angry, helpless, or sad. You might notice that you are more frustrated with others or completely avoid any reminders of what is happening. For those who already struggle with our mental wellness, we might feel more depressed or less motivated to carry out our daily activities.
If you are struggling, here are some actions from Mental Health America you can do to take care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty:
Are you checking in with your child and yourself about mental health?
- Talk with your child/children one-on-one
- Listen without judgment and ask questions
- Use some of the resources provided here to start the conversation
Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your loved ones.
- Take breaks from following the news, including social media
- Take care of your body with exercise, healthy eating, meditation, and good sleep
- Make time to relax
- Connect with others and talk about your concerns and feelings
Changes to Watch For
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way so here are some common changes to look for:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs