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By Jerry Barone, Chief Clinical Officer, and Laine Whitaker, MSL

Educators have their hands full. The pandemic has brought about enormous mental health and educational challenges, the scope of which are still unmeasurable. At the same time, interwoven throughout all these challenges, are racial injustices and disparities that seem to be widening by the minute.

Teachers are struggling to maintain their primary educational missions, and yet cannot ignore the mental health needs of students, nor the racial trauma that affects so many of their students. …

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by Linda Rosenberg, Executive Director of External Relations, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and Jerry Barone, Chief Clinical Officer, Lucille Carr-Kaffashan, PhD, and Duncan Young, CEO, Effective School Solutions

As a new year dawns, educators across the United States are facing challenges that just a year ago would have been unimaginable. Some challenges are directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the need to upgrade technology and skills related to remote learning, to alter physical spaces and routines to allow for physical distancing and enhanced cleaning, and to monitor the health of both students and staff in order to keep everyone safe. …

By Gerard Barone, LCSW, Chief Clinical Officer and Lisa Ciappi, LCSW, Executive Director

It is certainly an understatement to say that school professionals have had to adapt to a multitude of changes since the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine in March, 2020. Despite time spent during the summer to re-group and prepare for the beginning of a new school year in September, educators are finding that even deep into the fall semester they still feel unsettled. …

by Coleen Vanderbeek, Psy.D., LPC

Balancing optimism with the acceptance of harsh realities can be difficult under the best of circumstances. In the midst of a life-altering stressor like the COVID-19 pandemic, however, it can feel like a next-to-impossible tightrope walk.

Both mental health professionals and well-meaning lay folks have shared endless ideas about how to cope with the fear, boredom, grief, and ambiguity that have been our constant companions since March of this year. Some advocate for an acceptance approach: Accept yourself where you are! Be kind to yourself! Sit with and tolerate the discomfort and the solitude! Face the facts! Lower expectations of yourself and others! Resist the urge to compare yourself with others! …

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by Lucille Carr-Kaffashan, Ph.D.

For many students, the return to school represents a fresh start. New clothes and school supplies, new subjects and teachers, new friends and extracurricular activities to enjoy. But, even under the best of circumstances, school avoidant youngsters dread the return to school, and this year, in the midst of a global pandemic, the return to school is even more difficult. And, to make matters worse, even if you have opted to send your children back for in-person learning, your own uncertainty about this difficult decision might increase your child’s fears.

There are many factors that contribute to school avoidance, and it is critical to have a mental health professional conduct a comprehensive assessment to determine what maintains your child’s avoidant behavior. Some children refuse school to avoid the negative feelings associated with learning or attentional issues, or with trying to meet academic demands. Some avoid to escape bullying. Some are extremely self-conscious and assume that others are always judging them. Others have an intense fear of being away from home, often the result of frightening experiences such as an accident or a family member’s illness. Still others prefer the rewards available at home — a comfortable room, videogames, their favorite foods, etc. …

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A National Survey on School Mental Health, COVID-19 and School Reopening

By Duncan Young, CEO, Effective School Solutions

For months, experts across the education and mental health landscapes have been speculating as to what the impact of COVID-19 and continuing disruption in schooling would mean for student mental health. While there has been plenty of hypothesizing that the length of the pandemic and associated uncertainty would have a deleterious effect on student mental health challenges, there has been a deficit of hard survey data to answer some of these key questions. With that in mind, Effective School Solutions has recently completed a nationwide survey of educators to answer some key questions about COVID-19, mental health, and the return to school. …

By Gerard Barone, LCSW and Dan Lemond, MA, LPC, ACS

Prior to being turned upside down by a global pandemic, school districts were already facing a myriad of mental health challenges. It has been well documented that the rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidality have been steadily rising in school-aged children in recent years. Many contributing factors have been identified, including social media and the intense pressures associated with living in a digital world, as well as the increasing number of youngsters who are living in chronic traumatic conditions, such as exposure to poverty and racism. …

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by Melissa A. Callen, MA, LPC, ACS, Effective School Solutions

As school districts across the county begin the new school year, they are faced with the increase in mental health challenges students are experiencing due to the global pandemic. Many students have been struggling for months with a toxic combination of social isolation, environmental stress, and increased anxiety- in short, a collective trauma shared by a whole generation of young people.

The Impact of Traumatic Stress on Children & Adolescents

Childhood traumatic stress occurs when violent or dangerous events overwhelm a child’s or adolescent’s ability to cope. Examples of traumatic events include neglect, psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, racism, discrimination, natural disasters, terrorism, school violence, commercial sexual exploitation, serious accidents, life-threatening illness, or sudden or violent loss of a loved one. …

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By Jerry Barone (Chief Clinical Officer), Dr. Coleen Vanderbeek (Director of Clinical Programming) and Duncan Young (CEO)

School districts across the county currently face a tremendous amount of uncertainty as they plan different approaches for returning to school in the fall. Should school be in-person, virtual or offered via a hybrid approach? How does a district balance the risk to student and teacher health with the very real negative consequences of continued disruption in schooling? …

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By Gerard Barone, LCSW

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on adults and children alike, all of whom are struggling to cope with dismantled routines, and with losses both tangible and intangible. Preschool children have perhaps relished additional time with parents, but school-aged children have had their educational and social development significantly disrupted.

Since March 2020, educators across the USA have been working tirelessly to conduct remote instruction, and to provide the services mandated by Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Many districts are still uncertain about whether and how students will return to school buildings in the fall, and are scrambling to design hybrid instructional models and schedules, and to re-arrange physical space to allow for social distancing. …

About

Effective School Solutions

Reinventing K-12 Mental Health Care. Effective School Solution partners with school districts to help develop K-12 whole-school mental health programs.

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