News & Events

Subject: Talk therapy/Dr. Masters available to students/families

Hello Students, Parents and Guardians. We wanted to reach out to let you know that the talk therapy that was previously being offered via video at the school sites is now being offered on site at Mayers Memorial Hospital District. We realize that you may want these FREE services for your students in this stressful time so we’re pleased that Dr. Masters is still available for appointments, just not on school grounds. If you or your student are interested in using this service please call Amanda Harris at Mayers Memorial Hospital at (530)336-7548 to set up a time. Thank you.

 

FRJUSD Psychologist Update 4/20/2020

Greetings  Students, Parents, Staff and Fellow Intermountain Community Members.  With schools closed, kids at home, the loss of many jobs, fears for our health and the health of those around us, and concerns over growing economic and geopolitical uncertainty, many of us are looking for strategies to cope. The strategies we elect to use will have lasting impacts on our mental health once this crisis is over.  I’ve attached a list of resources with some great information on promoting good mental health during this crisis and I encourage you to check them out. I’ve take a moment to outline my top suggestions:

Routine – Having a routine and keeping to a schedule will help to reduce stress. Humans are goal-oriented animals and we thrive on getting things done. It is important to try to recreate some of the routine children have at school to the extent possible. This means starting the day at the same time and having set school work periods. It’s unrealistic to expect children to work for hours undistracted. Starting at the same time after breakfast, plan school work in 20-40 minute blocks with a break and small treat as a reward at the end of the period.  As a parent, about 2 hours before bed, make a list of the tasks you would like accomplish the next day.  Wake up at the same time each day and plan your day with a mindset to get those tasks done.  Both students and parents should avoid binge watching DVDs or Netflix or playing more than 45 minutes of video games at one time.  Having a multiday or multi-week project (especially a family project) can create an aim and help create structure by being broken down into daily tasks and waypoints. Preparing a garden can be a great activity that incorporates exercise, sunlight, routine and healthy eating.

Moderate exercise and sunlight –both improve mood and help body produce hormones and other nutrients needed for health. Recent data from the Department of Homeland Security also suggests the virus has a shorter half-life outside in sunlight. We’re truly fortunate to live somewhere with enough space where we can get outside for exercise while still following social distancing rules (often while simultaneously gazing at ancient volcanoes).

Eating healthy and sleeping – Now is a great time to be sure to include lots of green leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and other veggies in your diet. Lots of people stress-eat in times like these. In fact, retailers nationwide are reporting increased sales of junk foods (Ben and Jerry are the two wealthiest therapists in the business). While the occasional bite of chocolate or bag of chips is okay to provide comfort, ensure that your diet is built upon a solid foundation of fresh foods and save the Oreos for small treats.  Milk can be an important source of vitamin D for kids and has been provided in the school meals which are sent home. Sleep is an early casualty of a disrupted routine. A recent poll indicated 75% of Americans are reporting sleep disturbances as a result of the current pandemic. Children typically need 8-10 hours of sleep per night optimally. Lack of sleep can accentuate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Avoid napping during the day if you’re having difficulty falling asleep at night. Practicing good sleep hygiene can also help (dark and quiet is best) as well as unplugging from the news in the evenings to reduce stress and stopping screen use 2 hours before bed to reduce the amount of blue light effecting you.

Keep in Touch – Staying connected to those you normally talk to is important in maintaining a sense of wellbeing. This can also be a good time to re-connect with others you may have lost contact with.            

Practice Self-Care – Try to plan a few things you really enjoy to spread out through the day. This can also be a great time to start practicing meditation or mindfulness to deal with stress. Some links are included at the bottom of this message. There are some great apps available if you search “mindfulness” on the Apple Itunes or Google Play Stores. There will also be a period of grieving for some. After a reasonable period or grief, we must reframe our loss and re-dedicate ourselves to future goals. This too will pass.

Remember, the format has changed but your school is still there for you. The district is offering free counseling for students through our telemed services in conjunction with Mayers Memorial Hospital. Your site principals can provide more information on accessing those services. You are also encouraged to contact me or your student’s principal with any concerns you may have about the safety of your child during this time. I am available to answer any mental health related questions and can be contacted at bbeyer@frjusd.org  

“Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” -E.B. White

Yours Truly,

Brent C. Beyer, School District Psychologist

 

Resources:

 

American Psychological Association’s Coping with COVID-19-related

Stress as a Student ( https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/student-stress.pdf )

 

National Association of School Psychologists: Talking with Children about Corona Virus   https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1SWWWNcJwfUY0jILk-xLNbDZwkNx30mK7TPqFPPKK3nI/edit?usp=sharing

 

Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks (SAMHSA) https://casponline.org/pdfs/publications/covid/SAMHSA%20Coping%20with%20Stress%20During%20Infectious%20Disease%20Outbreaks.pdf

VIDEO: Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoNeZkSuviQ

 

30 Virtual Field Trips for Kids

https://theeducatorsspinonit.com/virtual-field-trips-for-kids/?fbclid=IwAR0HqhNEoXiRi2_aGsY9dzItm54JK5XrKMPVrVUKKZrRrejwedck3KXyh8o

 

Mindfulness for Kids

https://www.mindfulschools.org/free-online-mindfulness-class-for-kids/

 

Calm Yeti Mindfulness

https://www.wix.mindyeti.com/?fbclid=IwAR2NW7E1pCONDXLlqMf2d3oZsb-suGG-qX6iRmoRaBsA1rgfIMtSh3bkgGM

 

Anxiety: Helping Handout for School and Home

https://www.nasponline.org/x55101.xml

 

Depression: Helping Handout for Home

https://www.nasponline.org/x55105.xml

 

Sleep Problems: Helping Handout for Home

https://www.nasponline.org/x55108.xml

 

Suicidal Thinking and Threats: Helping Handout for Home

https://www.nasponline.org/x55107.xml4

 

Covid ClosureSnow Day Late StartSupporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma: Tips for Parents and Educators

Unfortunately, children are impacted by trauma in a myriad of ways and these experiences are significant risk factors for poor health, academic failure, and ultimately, a poor quality of life. Beginning in 1995, the Adverse Childhood Experience Study examined the prevalence of childhood trauma and its impact by tracking more than 17,000 children. This study has provided invaluable although discouraging insight into the prevalence of trauma in children's lives. The most common traumas experienced by children and their prevalence are: physical abuse (28%), reside in households with substance abuse (27%), emotional neglect (25%), parental separation or divorce (24%), sexual abuse (21%), family member with mental illness (20%), and witness of domestic violence (13%). At least two-thirds of participants in the Adverse Childhood Experience Study reported at least one of these experiences, and 20% reported three or more. The greater number and intensity of trauma experiences a child has, the more severe the associated impact on development. Schools have a unique opportunity and responsibility to help these children recover from trauma and develop the skills necessary to experience academic and social success. This begins with educating school personnel on trauma and effective interventions.

Trauma Risk Factors. Certain individual and contextual characteristics are associated with an increased likelihood of experiencing trauma, such as:

  • Proximity to a traumatic event
  • Past exposure to trauma
  • Current or past mental health problems or the presence of a disability
  • Parental substance abuse or mental illness
  • Limited social support or isolation
  • Family stress
  • Loss or fear of the loss of a loved one
  • Community characteristics
  • Developmental level
  • Poverty level

Children are particularly vulnerable to a traumatic event when:

  • They are not living with their families, have witnessed family violence, have a family history of mental illness, and/or have witnessed adults being severely distressed by the event
  • They possess a mental health problem prior to the traumatic event
  • They lack support from friends or family
  • They have been exposed to previous traumatic events

Warning Signs. If any of the following symptoms do not decrease over time, if they severely impact the child's ability to participate in normal activities, or if significant changes are noted, a referral to a mental health professional may be necessary.

  • Disruption or withdrawal from peer relationships
  • General lack of energy or lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Strained family relationships (increased misbehavior, lashing out against family members, refusal to participate in normal family routines)
  • Decline in school performance, school avoidance, or difficulty concentrating
  • Physical complaints with no apparent cause
  • Maladaptive coping (drug or alcohol use, severe aggression)
  • Threats of harm to self or others
  • Repeated nightmares and reporting strong fears of death and violence
  • Repetitive play reenacting the traumatic events
  • Sleeping (difficulty falling or staying asleep) and eating disturbances
  • Increased arousal (easily startling or quick to anger), agitation, irritability, aggressiveness
  • Regression in behavior (thumb-sucking, bedwetting, clinginess, fear of the dark)

 

Trauma's potential impact on education:

  • Delays in all domains of development
  • Higher drop-out rates
  • Lower academic achievement (reduced ability to organize, problem-solve and process information)
  • Higher suspension and expulsion rates
  • Higher rates of referral for special education
  • Emotional responses or symptoms of trauma can negatively impact concentration and memory

What to do: Adults can help reestablish security and stability for these children in a number of ways.

  • Recognize and be sensitive to the fact that problem behaviors can be the manifestation of trauma-related anxiety
  • Help children manage their feelings by teaching and modeling effective coping strategies
  • Answer children's questions related to the traumatic event(s) in honest, developmentally appropriate language and terms
  • Create clear and concrete safety plans with the child
  • Engage them in activities that stimulate the mind and body
  • Expand their "feelings" vocabulary so they can more easily express themselves
  • Promote family activities to bring them closer to the ones they love 
    • Maintain usual routines
  • Watch for changes in behaviors
  • Allow children to tell the story of the trauma they experienced, as they see it, so they can begin to release their emotions and make sense of what happened
  • Respond calmly and compassionately, but without displaying shock or judgment
    • Reassure children that the adults in their life are working to keep them safe
    • Set boundaries and limits with consistency and patience
  • Remind them repeatedly how much you care for them
  • Give them choices to regain a sense of control
  • Encourage and support them
  • Anticipate challenging times or situations that may be reminders of the event and provide additional support
  • Provide children who are acting out with opportunities to redirect their energy in a helpful way such as giving them additional responsibilities or leadership roles

What school-based professionals can do:

  • Follow your school's reporting procedures if there is suspected abuse
  • If the child is not eligible for special education, consider making individualized modifications to academic work until the trauma has been sufficiently addressed (might consider including these in a 504 plan). You could:
    • Modify or shorten assignments
    • Offer individual tutoring or support
    • Give extended time
    • Allow the child to leave class to go see a school-based mental health professional if the child is struggling emotionally
    • Assist the child with organizing and remembering assignments
    • Try to engage caretakers in providing academic support at home
    • Explore with the child if there is something that provides comfort such as a memento or item from a loved one that can be brought to school
    • Help the child identify effective soothing techniques such as drawing, deep breathing, exercising that can be utilized in school to manage emotions

The Role of School-based Professionals in Dealing with Trauma

Children spend a significant portion of their childhood in school under the care and guidance of school personnel. As such, schools have a responsibility to help children feel supported and safe. Effective trauma prevention and interventions need to be closely connected to supportive mental health services. The school climate needs to balance student behavioral expectations with compassionate and trustful student/adult relationships. It is critical for every school staff member to be aware of the warning signs of serious emotional trauma and to respond to these children with thoughtful responses guided by an understanding of how trauma impacts children. Because many communities have high levels of trauma, entire school systems should be knowledgeable about the potential impacts of trauma and ensure that school is an environment where students feel safe disclosing traumatic experiences.

Resiliency Factors

The presence of resiliency factors can decrease or eliminate the impact that trauma can have on children. These include:

  • The reliable presence of a positive, caring, and protective parent/caregiver who can help protect their children against adverse experiences
  • Children knowing that they are loved, supported, and cared for by multiple adults such as family members, teachers, and other adults
  • Professional support for the child/family
  • Peer support and positive social relationships
  • Effective coping skills
  • The ability to express themselves and seek support when needed
  • Problem-solving skills
  • High self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Connections with prosocial institutions
  • Internal locus of control
  • Involvement with a faith or belief system

Suggested Resources


Recommended Citation: NASP School Safety and Crisis Response Committee. (2015). Supporting Students Experiencing Childhood Trauma - Tips for Parents and Educators. Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.

Contributors: Amanda Nickerson, PhD, NCSP; Shane R. Jimerson, PhD, NCSP

© 2015, National Association of School Psychologists, 4340 East West Highway, Suite 402, Bethesda, MD 20814; (301) 657-0270, Fax (301) 657-0275; www.nasponline.org

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