In the midst of a global pandemic, economic downturn and international quarantine, the mental health of Americans is a growing public concern.
To help alleviate students’ negative feelings, School Psychologist Christine Kuhl wants them to know that they are not alone. She is working alongside school counselors and social workers to help maintain students’ mental health by sending students resources via Schoology and checking in with them.
Kuhl said that the mental health team is also maintaining contact with students that used to regularly see their counselors during the school week.
“Teachers are also helping the mental health team track students’ academic activities. They provide us with names of students that have been absent from online learning and/or they are concerned about,” Kuhl said. “The mental health team then reaches out to these students and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s) to check-in on them and identify any needs they may have and how we may be able to help.”
According to Kuhl, COVID-19 can certainly act as a trigger for anxiety, which she assures is a normal response to the disruption of our daily routines. However, she said that there could be cause for concern if a student finds that their attitude towards life is impaired. Indications of such could include an inability to get out of bed, significant changes in appetite or acute fear and worry.
Many experts are starting to voice their growing concerns regarding the mental health of Americans during this time of emotional trauma. On April 14, former Congressman and mental health advocate Patrick J. Kennedy reported an 800 percent increase in calls to suicide hotlines at the Metro Nashville news conference, fearing that mental illness could act as a silent killer, becoming the country’s next major health crisis.
Simultaneously, cities across the country, in areas like Los Angeles, Nashville, Maryland and Montana, have seen significantly more calls regarding anxiety disorders and depression exacerbated by fears of COVID-19, job loss and isolation.
To maintain their mental health, Kuhl encourages students to take care of their basic needs and find a maintainable and regular routine. This includes making sure to eat a healthy diet, get seven to 10 hours of sleep a night, drink plenty of water, enjoy the outdoors and allocate time to activities that fulfill oneself, such as exercise or listening to music.
“Most importantly, make time to connect with your support people,” Kuhl said. “Reach out to friends via Facetime, Zoom or social media and if you think you need more support—reach out to your support people at school. We are all here for you and we want to help.”