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Giving Compass' Take:
• Caroline Preston, at The Hechinger Report, covers a variety of methods that schools are using to preserve and protect students' mental health as remote education approaches.
• Why is it important for teachers to assess their own mental health as well during the crisis? How might students' mental health be especially vulnerable during COVID-19? What can we do to make sure marginalized communities are not excluded from mental health initiatives in U.S. school districts?
The calls started at 6 a.m., and Patrick McCauley was ready, having retreated to the privacy of his garage where he sat waiting for Angelenos to share how they’re coping with the stresses of the coronavirus pandemic.
For the last 14 years, McCauley has worked as a mental health counselor and consultant in the Los Angeles Unified School District. In April, he began staffing a new hotline the district created to reach students, parents and teachers in need of mental health supports and other services as the virus forced people into isolation and cost jobs and lives.
One day he heard from a fifth grader who was terrified that her parents would catch the illness. Another day, a mother wanted advice on her once mild-mannered daughter, who had started throwing tantrums and yelling profanities after the quarantine began.
Their testimony amounted to a warning of what schools may face when they restart this fall: kids with a history of mental health problems whose symptoms have worsened, students who maybe experiencing anxiety or anger for the first time, children in households that have become financially precarious and those who are experiencing loss.
Around the country, school leaders are trying to anticipate how these mental health burdens will shape what unfolds in classrooms and via screens during a school year in which the trauma is likely to worsen. Some school districts are running hotlines to provide guidance and connect families to services. Other schools are offering grief training to teachers, counseling them on how to recognize signs of distress, and encouraging them to attend to their own emotional wellbeing. Still others are setting up virtual “wellness rooms,” inviting community mental health agencies into schools and unveiling new or expanded “social-emotional curricula” to help students process their feelings.
Read the full article about students' mental health during COVID-19 by Caroline Preston at The Hechinger Report.