Mental Health Education Club Hosts Virtual Session with Dr. Casey Weinstein
Co-founders of the high school Mental Health Education Club, Camden A. ’23 and Sara M. ’23, hosted a virtual session with Dr. Casey Weinstein, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist. Open to students, parents, faculty and staff, Dr. Weinstein addressed many concerns about how teenagers are coping with the pandemic.
What are some good ways to stay motivated during virtual school? The first step is to recognize that this is one of the hardest things that students your age have had to adapt to and overcome. Some days are going to be harder than others. The best thing to do is to get up and get out of your seat. It’s hard for people to sit in front of a screen all day. Take breaks when you can and find other spaces to work in just to keep that motivation you need.
How should we tackle anxiety and stress differently? Before the pandemic, there was an entire day of school to distract you from those feelings of anxiety like seeing friends during lunch or in your classes. Now, everyone has more time to sit with those feelings. You have to ask yourself, “what am I doing when I feel overwhelmed and is it working?” and “How do I use the tools I used before the pandemic?” You have to give yourself a break and pivot a little differently.
What are some good coping mechanisms? One of the main things I tell clients is that you should find time to be active. There is a lot of energy pent up by sitting all day. You have to find a way to get out some of that energy. In addition, make sure you are getting good sleep, have a routine during the week, and are eating well. Anything beyond that is personal to who you are as a person - whether through art, sports, journaling -- find what you like to do and try to make it a routine as part of your coping skills.
What are some common things you are seeing that teenagers are struggling with? Remote learning is always on the table because it is so new and different. People are feeling lonely and isolated and really overwhelmed. None of us are supposed to be home with our families 24/7 - many are struggling with how to make this work without compromising our relationships. So we have to give ourselves a little more understanding. I’m so impressed with how students have adapted. You are allowed to not be okay and to have a bad day. But if you lash out, then you have to own it.
Can you go over social media guidelines use during this time? I see many people fall into social media as a distraction. This can be adding toxicity to an already difficult situation because you can compare yourself to other people instead of doing things to better yourself. If you are having days that are really hard where anxiety is out of control, ask yourself if social media is really serving you? What does Instagram do for you? Examine what’s working and what’s not working. It’s also a good idea to get off social media an hour before you go to sleep - anxiety goes down just with that shift.
From a parent’s perspective, what are behaviors or situations that should be red flags? Parents know their kids best, so trust yourself if something feels different or off. Have that check-in moment with them when you are noticing that they are down or feeling sad. Everybody’s anxiety and sadness is at an all-time high, but on the other hand we have to keep that line of communication open. If it feels like something is off, maybe it’s time to think about seeing someone.
If you or your child need additional support during these difficult times, please contact Louise Macatee at MacateL@campbellhall.org for secondary school families or Courtney Royle at firstname.lastname@example.org for elementary school families.
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