Supporting Student Mental Health & Wellness During COVID-19

In an effort to support students and families navigating this uncertain time, Upper School Counselor Sophie Speidel and Learning Village Counselor Lily Gumz have implemented and compiled the following resources. Additional resources can also be found here.

After three weeks of distance learning, we are eager to share the work we’re currently doing with our students to proactively assist during this time of COVID-19. 

In the Learning Village, Ms. Gumz is working closely with administration in an effort to support families. She is offering virtual Lunch Bunch groups and office hours for parents and students alike every day of the week. If you’d like to sign up, but don’t see a time that works well with your schedule, please feel free to email Ms. Gumz directly. 

In the Upper School, freshmen and new sophomores attend two 45-minute “Life Skills in COVID-19” classes with Mrs. Speidel. Class topics have emphasized the importance of self-care, including making space every day for quality sleep, exercise, quiet reading, journaling, and connecting with family and friends. Students have also practiced mindfulness, watched videos regarding habit change, listened to podcasts on how to develop "Calm Practice," and role-played scenarios demonstrating effective ways to reach out to a friend or family member and practice deep listening.

All Upper School students attend virtual advisory three days a week during distance learning time. All Grades 5 - 8 students attend virtual advisory at least once per week, and Grades K - 4 homeroom classes attend virtual Morning Meetings at least once per week. Advisory and homerooms offer a safe and familiar place for community and connection, and advisors and teachers are able to check in with individual students who may be struggling with isolation or anxiety. Many faculty members throughout the School (including all Upper School teachers) are trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid, and work with Mrs. Speidel, Ms. Gumz, and Academic & Learning Support Specialists Alison Ruff and Sydney Wicks to provide timely and appropriate responses if there is a concern.

The following are a few recommended tips for parents to help manage their and their family's well-being during this time:

  • Now is not the time to aim for perfection. Be proud of what you are able to accomplish each day, and take each day as it comes. 

  • It's especially important now to keep up your self-care routine. Consider what helps you most, such as meditating, reading, exercising, taking a walk outside, or talking to friends and family. Talk to your kids about their self-care routines as well. 

  • Stay connected! Just because we have to practice social distancing doesn't mean we can't still see our friends and family. Organize Zoom or Google Meet "play dates" for your kids. Ask your teens if they've connected with their friends or classmates recently. For adults, plan a Zoom dinner party and check-in with an out-of-state friend you don't get to see very often. It's especially important to stay connected now.

  • Limit news consumption. If you are watching/reading the news, try to stick with one news source. In addition, try to avoid watching the news right before bed. 

  • Get enough sleep. When you’re stressed, your body needs additional sleep. Try to get at least 8 hours a night!

  • Social worker and researcher Brene Brown emphasizes that "anxiety is contagious, but so is calm." When you feel negative thoughts creeping in, try to replace them with positive ones. Listen to Dr. Brown’s podcast on developing a "Calm Practice."

  • Eat well-balanced meals and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption.  

  • Create a new routine. Of course things look and feel different than your previous routines, but it's incredibly important to maintain structure in your days at home, for both you and your families.

  • Seek support. For anyone whose feelings are impacting their job performance or interpersonal relationships, consult with a trained mental health professional. Many practices and agencies are offering telehealth and meetings via Zoom, including local parent coach Emily Mathon. Ms. Gumz and Mrs. Speidel can also offer referrals to local professionals.

  • Check out this infographic from Mental Health America and Anxiety and Depression Association of America for tips on how to deal with stress and anxiety.

  • Reach out to us! Ms. Gumz and Mrs. Speidel are here to help with any of your concerns.

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