Classrooms are full again. But as students return to school, they may also be bringing with them a year’s worth of pandemic-induced worries and concerns. To help students re-focus, mental health professionals are available to them, virtually and in-person, thanks in part, to your support of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.
Tackling the unseen factors – stress & anxiety
Dr. Ashley Beattie, psychiatrist and FAU Resident Supervisor for Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, oversees a team of FAU psychiatric residents, who work with students throughout South Palm Beach County, who may need assistance dealing with chronic stress.
“There has been so much change for them for the last two years — from not being able to go to school to mastering the online system at home. Now, there’s the back and forth of COVID protocols for exposure and having to go back home, if exposed, and losing more classroom time,” Dr. Beattie said.
“For these kids, who rely on adults for information and structure, but even the adults may not know the answers, it creates even more stress. Our team provides psychiatric evaluations, behavioral therapy, counseling and medicine, if it’s deemed to be helpful.”
Helping teachers and parents help students
All of our SPBC Jewish Day Schools focus on the health and well-being of their students and families daily. JFS outreach coordinators work with many of them to facilitate access to their services. Watch a special “Back to School” conversation with JFS counselors here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eou9MTNjgro (about 35 minutes)
In addition, at Donna Klein Jewish Academy, Dr. Ryan Seidman has joined the staff on a part-time basis to not only provide psychological support to faculty, but also to offer programs for parents and grandparents, specific to handling COVID-19, stress and anxiety.
“Working in a consultative role, I speak to the teachers about the mental health of our students and help in facilitating more constructive conversations,” Dr. Seidman said. “Some behavioral situations that arise in the classrooms are not necessarily what they appear to be. Some behaviors can be tied to the situation – the stress of dealing with COVID and transitioning back to the classroom — not the students themselves.”
Assistance when you need it
Dr. Beattie advises parents to help their students get back to normal by acknowledging how things have changed and “normalizing” this new reality.
“The unknown creates anxiety, so be present for your kids. Communicate openly about any new changes,” she said. “If your child is really struggling, reach out to mental health services.”
For additional information on JFS’ Counseling & Mental Health Services, call 561.852.3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.