Ep17: Mental Health in the Time of Covid: Students, Parents, and Teachers
In this episode of “Body Talk” Dr. Traci L. Scheepstra interviews Lorie Shook (School Support Counselor at Eagle Heights P.S. in London, Ontario - Registered Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, and Child & Youth Worker) and Brooke Kewley (Learning Support Teacher at Southwold P.S. in St. Thomas, Ontario - Arts educator and Inclusion Club Facilitator for LGBTQ+ identified students). The conversation begins by discussing mental health changes Lorie and Brooke have noticed with teachers and students since the start of the pandemic. They particularly reflect on the differences between the first versus the second lockdown, and the challenges associated with lockdowns in general. They highlight how technology has become a poor substitute for socialization and connection compared to in class experiences. As the conversation continues, Lorie and Brooke talk about ways they acknowledge how students are feeling (e.g., disappointed, isolated) while also providing opportunities for them to stay positive. Some key considerations for supporting students with their mental health include: daily check-ins and opportunities to talk, creating structure and clear expectations (e.g., daily schedule), encouraging self-care, and providing mental health resources. They also talk about the downside of the pandemic and the impact it’s had on students, parents, and teachers. For example, there is a lack of support for people in crisis, parents are struggling to manage all of their responsibilities, and teachers are burning out at rates never seen before. Towards the end of the Body Talk, Lorie and Brooke assert that despite the current circumstances students are incredibly resilient and adaptable. They believe teachers are doing the best that they can (as are parents), and in time students will be back to thriving in their lives. We all agreed that what matters most right now is that we take care of ourselves and each other.