Counselor stresses elevated help for college kids
By Natalie Johnson
The COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing that got here with it – a necessity for staying bodily wholesome till vaccines are broadly out there – has taken its toll on many adults’ psychological well being.
However youngsters and teenagers are additionally dealing with a rise in charges of hysteria and melancholy, introduced on by shedding the construction and social connections offered by college for a lot of the previous yr.
“Numerous nervousness, heightened nervousness, significantly social nervousness,” mentioned Sean Fitzpatrick, a school-based psychological well being counselor at Okanogan Behavioral Healthcare (OBHC) assigned to the Methow Valley Faculty District, of what he’s seeing in Methow faculties.
“We’re diagnosing quite a lot of adjustment problems – people who find themselves fighting the change of their norm,” Fitzpatrick mentioned.
The district has been capable of have Fitzpatrick’s companies full time since November via a partnership with OBHC, which additionally offers psychological well being counselors in Oroville, Tonasket, Omak, Okanogan, Brewster and Pateros college districts as effectively. Sooner or later, they hope so as to add counselors at Grand Coulee, Lake Roosevelt and Nespelem faculties as effectively, mentioned Jacquelyn Wiman, director of Baby and Adolescent Companies at OBHC.
The varsity-based psychological well being program was created about six years in the past. At present, throughout the county, 260 college students are enrolled in formal counseling via OBHC.
Methow Valley was probably the most latest college districts to get its personal psychological well being counselor on web site.
“It’s been a objective of ours to take action for fairly a while, the problem has been discovering the correct individual to fill that function,” mentioned Methow Valley Faculty District Supt. Tom Venable. “We’re simply so lucky to seek out that individual in Sean.”
Crosby Carpenter, principal at Liberty Bell Excessive Faculty, echoed Venable’s statements.
“Initially the pandemic made our means to determine and help college students extra expediently harder, however I really feel like we’re rounding the nook,” he mentioned. “Gaining access to a full-time district psychological well being counselor is a recreation changer and one thing that ought to be the norm, not the exception. We’re so grateful for our partnership with OBHC and thrilled to have Sean as a part of our workforce.”
Earlier than being assigned to work out of the Methow Faculty District final November, Fitzpatrick moved to the world three years in the past from Portland, Oregon, and labored as a chosen disaster responder at OCBH.
“It’s a good alternative for me to focus just a little bit extra on my nearer group, my neighbors,” he mentioned.
Adjusting to on-line
A part of the battle for youngsters and teenagers has been adjusting to on-line college, which isn’t very best for a lot of college students. Fitzpatrick mentioned MVSD’s efforts to securely convey college students again to class have been useful.
“They’re doing an unbelievable job. It’s superb these youngsters are capable of be at school proper now. The varsity district is rocking it,” he mentioned. “That mentioned, if a child misses per week, we received’t see them for per week and a half. That’s 10 days and not using a college counselor or academics or anyone with their eyeballs on these youngsters. It’s simple for youths to begin to slip via the cracks after we’re not capable of see them as usually.”
Seeing a toddler is one factor. Seeing their face is one other, Wiman mentioned. She recounted a dialog with a trainer a few specific pupil who was struggling. The trainer instructed her that with masks on, it’s exhausting to inform a toddler’s facial features or perspective.
Counselors have additionally seen conditions the place one battle spirals into extra issues.
“Clearly we’re seeing much more melancholy as effectively. Undoubtedly a rise in lack of motivation,” she mentioned.
An absence of motivation usually results in poor grades, even amongst college students who did effectively earlier than, Wiman added.
“That form of impacts their vanity, their self-image,” she mentioned. “Among the methods we deal with melancholy as therapists is improve your social connection, improve your train. Sadly, proper now a few of that’s simply not an possibility.”
Fitzpatrick mentioned he usually works with mother and father as effectively, some struggling identical to their youngsters. Step one to assist is straightforward, he mentioned. And the easiest way to succeed in out for assist is thru the college counselors.
“Actually, the most effective issues you are able to do is discuss with somebody,” he mentioned. “Particularly after we’re all remoted and never having quite a lot of social isolation, we are able to get actually caught in our heads. We are able to get caught with beliefs that aren’t essentially the most wholesome or productive.”
Right here to Assist
If you happen to’re struggling, attain out. Okanogan County Behavioral Healthcare’s disaster textual content line is offered by texting HOME to 741741, and is free and out there 24 hours a day, seven days per week. The 24 hour disaster line is 1-866-826-6191 or 509-826-6191