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Supporting Student Mental Health at Home

Submitted by khristen.massic on Wed, 04/01/2020 - 18:22
Article by Lynette Muhlestein

There are no two ways about it; things have changed. With the widespread onset of COVID-19 in our country, there is hardly a soul whose daily life hasn’t been affected, so if you are feeling the strain, you are not alone! Times of uncertainty and upheaval have left us all feeling a bit lost. We want to make sure that our Mt. Nebo families have good resources for preventative mental health care as well as some places to turn if someone in the family needs additional support.

School Supports:

Although things certainly look different, we are still here for you! All Mt. Nebo students have received an invitation to the “Counseling Center” in Canvas. This online version of the counseling center is a work in progress, but we will be posting lessons, resources, and discussions regularly. Parents are welcome to set up a parent observer account to access the online counseling center.

The best way to get a hold of your student’s school counselor is via email, after which we can arrange to connect via phone or video call.

At-Home Supports:

We want to empower parents to have constructive conversations about mental health with their children not only all the time, but especially when things are hard. There are some really great resources available for families right now, and many paid services are providing free access because of COVID-19. We will be adding these resources to the “Parent Resources” module on Canvas as we find them. Here are a few we have compiled:

  • The Utah State Board of Education’s Project Aware (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education) has released guidelines to help parents support their student’s mental health at home. These guidelines serve as a good foundation to support positive mental wellness for children and adolescents during these times.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also has some helpful, proactive information on supporting mental health relative to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The good folks over at Why Try have a Parent Guide to Resilience that is available for free during the pandemic.
  • The Everyday Strong program by the United Way is a fantastic resource that is always free. The program encourages families and other community members to build resilience in children and recognize their needs in the face of anxiety and depression.
  • Mindfulness as a regular practice has been shown to have very positive outcomes for mental health, especially for those who struggle with anxious thoughts and feelings. There are many apps available, some are free. Calm is a favorite and Stop, Think, & Breathe is perfect for your little ones.
  • Our friends at Wasatch Mental Health have some really great articles and resources on their blog for those struggling during the pandemic.
  • We also highly recommend that if your student has an electronic device, they download the SafeUT app. SafeUT also has a website where students can chat anonymously with a clinician if they feel like they need support.

Where to turn if things feel a little more serious:

You will notice that a common thread in many of these resources is to just talk with your children. Help them feel safe and secure by providing structure and a listening ear. Keep an eye open for any red flags that your loved ones are succumbing to some more serious mental health problems and do not be afraid to reach out for help.

  • If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call Utah State’s Crisis Hotline: (800) 273-TALK (8255)
  • Wasatch Mental Health is our go-to community partner for families in need of mental health support.
  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a fairly comprehensive guide to mental health resources for specific mental health issues in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ensure that your teens know about the SafeUT app as a place that is anonymous and confidential. If the clinician who received the SafeUT app determines that intervention is necessary, a tip will be forwarded to the school for follow up.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to us!