Mental Health and Well Being
Updates and resources to promote good mental health hygiene during school closure, eventual return and recovery from COVID-19 from the school counseling and social emotional learning departments PK-12 of a number of Massachusetts School Districts. Please share widely! This page is updated regularly.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
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You know your child better than anyone. But even you have a few questions.
COVID-19 is putting incredible pressure on families. You might be noticing your student is struggling in new ways, or that old problems are getting worse. Should you worry about your student’s behavioral health? We’re here to help you figure that out.
“When physical distancing is deemed necessary, social and emotional connectedness is even more critical.”
- Karen Niemi
From the MA Department of Mental Health
Taking care of your emotional health and well-being during this time is important. Decreasing stress can help bolster your immune system and can help keep you and others around you healthy. Below are a list of resources and tips for staying emotionally healthy and well.
During this difficult, confusing, and frightening time, Mike Smith, the host of The Harbor™ by Jostens, takes to the crate to acknowledge the challenges we are all facing during the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions. Mike issues a call to action for all of us, in this unprecedented time, to find ways to build community, take care of one another, and stay rooted in love.
Caring for your mental health now is important!
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
Children and teens
People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
Changes in sleep or eating patterns
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
Worsening of chronic health problems
Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Full text here.
How to help children cope:
FEMA video about how to help children cope after a disaster in American Sign Language (ASL). Although this is for disasters, the message applies for outbreaks and the ASL translation is helpful to provide.
Closed captioning is available in English, Chinese, German, Hindi, Italian, Khmer, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese.
To help a child recover or cope here are some tips to help them feel safe again.
Limit TV Time: Intense media coverage of disasters can scare young children and disturb teenagers as well.
Keep to a routine: A routine will help your child have a sense of structure. This may help them feel more comfortable or provide a sense of familiarity. As schools and child-care open again this will help them return to everyday activities.
Make time for them: You can help kids understand they are safe by talking with them and spending time playing with them or doing other family activities. To help younger children, read a favorite book or play a relaxing game.
It is important to spend time explaining the situation to your kids and let them know that it is OK to ask questions and share their worries. Parents and guardians should answer questions briefly and honestly while listening to their children express themselves.
It is also good to let them know what is happening in the family with their school and in the community without overwhelming them with information.
How are you feeling today?
Take a moment, feel your breath, feel your body, and see if you can recognize and identify the emotions and feelings you are experiencing at this moment. Do not judge them or try to get rid of them or transform them. Whatever feelings you are experiencing are completely normal reactions to completely abnormal situations. Just breath.
Once you can name an emotion or two, or twelve, try to identify the next best feeling thought. Would it feel good to move your body? Would it feel good to spend time with family? Or call a friend? Or do something with your hands like cook or organize something, make a project or fix something? Take a look at this list and see which category stands out today for you and do it.
Moving forward, select an activity once daily for good self-care. Introduce this moment to breath and connect with your body and emotions to your housemates and make it a daily household habit or ritual to practice good mental health hygiene during social distancing or quarantine. You wash your hands multiple times a day, take each 20 second pause as an opportunity to breath, connect with your body and name what you are feeling. Good mental health hygiene is that easy- and also that important!
Beliefs (values, beliefs, self-statements)
Affect (expression of feelings)
Social (time with others)
Imagination (creativity, humor)
Cognition (information gathering, organizing)
Physical (for your body and your mind)