This past Saturday, October 10, was World Mental Health Day, and with Covid being a trying and difficult time for everyone, continual discussion about mental health is necessary. It is challenging for parents and educators, and we can only imagine what our scholars are going through. Businesses are closing, families are struggling, and social interactions are still limited. Feelings of loneliness and isolation are impacting everyone during this time. Social distancing can make it challenging to share special moments with family and friends. And when we need more support than ever, it can sometimes be difficult to find. Everyone varies on the amount of social interaction they need; this time can be unbearable for extroverts.
The mission of the Compass Charter Schools is to provide a comprehensive school counseling program that will empower all scholars to reach their fullest potential through advocacy and to promote success through a focus on academic, social/emotional, and career development, one scholar at a time. Our counselors and staff are here for you; please never hesitate to reach out. We are increasing Social-Emotional Learning, and the entire school staff will be taking part in a Symposium on Building Trauma-Sensitive Schools. We will focus on developing scholar life skills and resilience, fostering connectedness and belonging, and promote help-seeking behaviors. Compass is working on leveraging and creating opportunities to notice when a scholar might be struggling and ensuring mental health services are comprehensive and in place.
As a parent and learning coach, it is critical to,
1. Trust your instincts.
Trust your gut when it comes to your scholar and what they are going through. If you think something is different about them, act on it right away; talk to your school counselor, supervising teacher, staff, or a professional. If your scholar’s behaviors have changed, it is critical to address this immediately.
2. Support the development of life skills.
We all are adapting to new and unfamiliar circumstances in our daily lives because of COVID-19. We can support scholars in pursuing relationships, increasing problem-solving skills, decision making, and identifying and managing their emotions. We need to emphasize that scholars are not alone and increase guidance in areas where we excel: study skills, time management, or handling anxiety related to new challenges. Scholars can work with their counselors, attend tutoring sessions, learning labs, the peer mentoring club, and more at Compass for support.
3. Promote social connectedness.
Just because we need to remain physically distanced does not mean that we have to lose social contact. Encourage your scholar to nurture their friendships and stay in communication with other scholars. Some easy ways to increase social connectedness might include online study groups, online study partners, joining clubs, and participating in virtual events.
4. Actively listen.
Compass’s goal is to promote emotional health awareness among those who interact with scholars most frequently, from staff, parents, teachers, counselors, and other scholars. When communicating with scholars by phone, email, text, or social media platforms, teachers and staff can employ active listening principles. Learning Coaches can also apply these at home. If a student expresses a challenge, listen carefully to them at three recommended levels: 1. what they are saying, 2. what emotions they are feeling, and 3. how are they responding to these behaviors. Make sure that they have healthy outlets to deal with these emotions.
5. Increase help-seeking behaviors.
Scholars who need help are often reluctant or unsure of asking for help or how to seek help. At Compass, our counseling department is always here, hosting learning labs and supporting scholars. Each scholar is assigned a counselor. Please reach out. It will help scholars to reach out and communicate frustrations and fears.
Everything we have stated previously depends on efficient, direct, and proactive communication. Here is why: the same behavior could mean opposite things in different scholars. Communicate often with your scholar and express these feelings with the school counselor or a professional, if necessary.
As parents, learning coaches, teachers, counselors, and staff, we all need to be more diligent than ever to assess scholar well-being and mental health. We are a Compass Family, and the success of our scholars is the success of all.
Please check out these wonderful resources provided by Debra Stephan, Director of Counseling Services: