BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — The on-going fear and uncertainty of the school year is weighing heavily on students, parents and teachers, but local mental health experts want to help.
They hosted an important conversation Thursday that they hope will empower struggling families with tools to manage the pressure.
“We’re all struggling with this — like you've been talking, the grief, the loss,” commented Karl Shallowhorn, chair, Erie County Anti-Stigma Coalition.
Shallowhorn led this virtual conversation, Back in Session: The Emotional Roller Coaster for Students, Parents and Teachers in the New School Year.
There are huge mental health concerns for families dealing with remote learning or in-school learning in the midst of the pandemic.
Ka’Shara Jordon, a social worker at Niagara Falls High School, offered her expertise to the discussion.
Jordon said you should keep a daily routine for your children to give them a “sense of stability”.
“Like every morning, I’m going to wake up, ‘Im going to eat breakfast — I’m going to log in to my classes at this time and do my work at this time,” Jordon advised.
This summer a Gallup Poll found 30-percent of parents nationwide say their children are struggling with emotional or mental health because of the COVID restrictions on learning.
Danielle Eadie, clinical director of counseling at Daemen College in Amherst, also joined the panel discussion.
“We’re really focusing on again keeping it safe for everyone and minimizing those feelings of anxiety so everyone can be successful this semester,” explained Eadie.
Parent Pam Bennett of Strykersville has a 22-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome. She watched the Facebook live for advice.
Bennett's daughter Bailey is a 2020 high school graduate who just started on-line college learning. But Bennett says it's been stressful.
“It’s a lot of electronics through the day and electronics really kind of messes with my head. I don't know if it does with everybody heads, But I think it's effecting to be electronic — all day and all night kind of thing,” remarked Bennett.
“Help them just to understand and not teach. I think that's where a lot of parents are struggling at — they're trying to teach their kids instead of helping them understand the work,” Jordon noted.
Another difficult part of the pandemic for students at all levels of school is limits or lack of school activities and how many sports programs are being sidelined by COVID restrictions.
"It’s a huge part of these students identity and to not have that has — has really caused such of grief and loss,” Eadie explained.
Jordon said without school activities and sports it is important to keep students connected in a safe way.
“Our students have been pretty understanding, but are upset, especially seniors,” Jordon noted.
“What do you think are some of the things parents need to be aware of?” Shallowhorn asked panelists.
“Not being afraid to ask difficult questions. Asking them how are you doing with all of this — a lot of times you know your child — trust your instincts,” answered Eadie.
“Just be aware of the signs and symptoms,” responded Jordon. “If your child has depression — then identify those triggers — and what triggers them.”
Important advice all parents can take to heart.