The news is replete with all kinds of questions that are related to reopening school in these next few weeks. What is not as common is the anticipation of how many students who will have serious mental health issues and COVID-19 related trauma. Our students will have a significant set of health issues but also a number of relational and emotional struggles related to being isolated for months. Teachers and school administrators will need to be prepared for a very different normal for many students.
In Child Trends, Brandon Stratford writes about some of these predictable issues in a recently published article. Here are some quotes from his article:
Regardless of whether students return to school in person or via distance learning, education leaders and policymakers across the country must equip schools to address the social, emotional, and behavioral effects of the ongoing pandemic. To address these issues, many policymakers are turning to school-based mental health services as a key strategy for supporting student wellness. Although mental health services are a critical, often underfunded element of supporting the needs of students—particularly those who are experiencing trauma—we recommend that education leaders take a comprehensive approach that goes beyond mental health services as schools reopen.
Mental health treatment is most effective when delivered within a schoolwide, coordinated approach to supporting wellness. Several clinical interventions—delivered by school mental health professionals—have been demonstrated to be effective, including programs like Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), which has been adapted to meet the needs of diverse student populations. However, in many cases, there are more students who need services than resources to provide them.
Lakeside also has resources for schools via our Neurologic Initiative, a brain-based and trauma-informed approach to managing students. We just conducted a symposium to help teachers and school administrators prepare for students’ return to school. It was an all-day symposium that will be available on our website at www.lakesidelink.com for the next two weeks. There are also resources that you can purchase that addresses the needs of students and how to approach them in brain-friendly ways. I am sure you will find them helpful. We all need to be aware of how to help returning students cope with the impact of COVID-19.