Uniting experts in the realm of psychologists, child-specialized counselors and emotional wellness experts for its panel of contributors, the webinar took an in-depth look at mental health during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Panel members included Dr. Jennifer Hughes, psychologist and professor at University of Texas, Southwestern, Gillian de La Sayette, licensed professional counselor, and Kelley Loyd and Kym Brinkley, Dallas International School counselors.
Throughout the webinar, the expert panel explored ways in which parents and educators can help play a role in managing personal stress and anxiety experienced by students during these troubling times. Discussing many themes she regularly encounters since the transition to virtual learning, Dr. Jennifer Hughes shared clinical research about the psychological responses in children while adapting to being in the home due to the pandemic. “The pandemic has disrupted many rituals in the lives of students, including proms, graduations and homecomings, but there’s a large amount of research that shows that teens were more prepared to pivot to learning through virtual means more than any of us ever were due to the importance of technology and social media in their daily lives,” shared Dr. Hughes.
Going over some of the studies on the resiliency of youth and how it can be utilized toward a more productive approach with mental health and well-being in children, Gillian de La Sayette discussed how she regularly encounters students in her practice who remind her how adaptable children can be in times of pandemic as opposed to adults. She was also very pleased with Dallas International School and its transition to distance learning. “Students currently miss the camaraderie and validation they receive through social interaction in school while being with their peers. While there has been a disruption in their daily lives, DIS has done a wonderful job with creating a routine with students to still receive the social interaction they need from their teachers and friends,” stated Gillian.
Completing the expert panel were DIS counselors, Kym Brinkley and Kelley Loyd, who shared tips and strategies they had personally researched for parents and educators to support youth in managing their emotions during times of pandemic. They expressed topics such as how it is ok to go through the grieving process with your child, how many parents may feel it's their responsibility to find a solution to take away the pain that their child is experiencing, offering children a comfortable environment where they feel they can grieve and express their frustrations, and finding something positive to help them cope through these tough times. Kelley also discussed how students have gone over and above to show their positivity and optimism in these tough times, and while they do miss their peers, they also miss the DIS staff and faculty. “One of the most common themes I hear with my first and second graders when I speak to them virtually is how they miss the interactions with their friends, and more so their teachers. This reminds all of us how important an educator’s role is in the lives of students,” explained Kelley.
“In the upper school, I am in our virtual support lounge every day to provide support for mental well-being to students. When students come into the support lounge, they are always ecstatic to see their favorite teachers or coaches in the lounge. It really is amazing to see the students’ eyes light up. As their teachers, we truly care about their well-being,” added Kym Brinkley. Kym also shared that parents would be amazed by what a child comes up with by tapping into their mind for ways they can get still enjoy seeing their friends while respecting social distancing rules.
We appreciate the guests who were able to complete our panel of experts, and encourage all who were not able to attend to watch the webinar by clicking here.