By Brenda Duong, Manager
We all know it has been a tough year for schools, from students and families to teachers and staff.
As we enter the final stretch of the 2020-21 school year—many challenges will remain long after vaccines are distributed—especially the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of children.
Students across the U.S. have faced numerous obstacles this year—maybe a job loss in the family, economic distress, health or safety fears, and/or COVID learning loss. While communities of educators and partners have pulled together to help address these pressures—the pandemic has made it even tougher to establish a routine for children of all ages. Thus, these difficulties have been magnified.
- Incorporate mental health messaging in all communication. Keep mental health resources top-of-mind and make it easy for families to know how to access these critical resources. Consider including this messaging in parent letters, e-newsletters, social media notifications, and on the website. Additionally, see if you can make this information easily digestible—create an infographic or motion graphic video to help families understand how to seek support.
- Give your families a mental health break. Consider how your school can help families unplug and unwind for the night, thus prioritizing their mental health. If you are a teacher, consider assigning a project that takes place outside so the child can unplug from their Chromebook, or laptop for an evening.
- Lean on professionals for help. While each school likely has a mental health professional on hand, their time might be limited as they support so many during this unusual school year. Your community’s local mental health organization likely has a variety of resources readily available. Connect with the experts in mental health to learn more about free resources, or affordable services through insurance and make sure your community is aware of their availability.
Unfortunately, the repercussions of the past year are likely to linger, and mental health is overlooked too often. Let us work together as a community to confront the mental health impact our children and communities will face for years to come. Let us also continue to demonstrate grace, patience and understanding with each other.
Brenda Duong is a manager at Lambert working closely with schools across the country, as well as the Community Mental Health Association of Michigan. Learn more about our education team or connect with us here.