Mental Health Minute

COVID-19 Edition

A Note...

I saw a quote online this week: "Conversations will not be cancelled. Relationships will not be cancelled. Love will not be cancelled. Songs will not be cancelled. Reading will not be cancelled. Self-care will not be cancelled. Hope will not be cancelled. May we lean into the good stuff that remains." - Jamie Tworkowski.


This parallels our District Global Outcomes... Communication is not cancelled. We are simply doing it in "online" ways. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving are not cancelled. We are the living example of humanity rising up together to problem solve. Creativity is not cancelled. Time for arts and crafts, anyone? Physical, Social and Emotional Wellness are not cancelled. Try an online workout platform, find an internet community for something you'd usually do in person, and take the opportunity of this slower pace to really connect with the people in your home. Compassion and Global Awareness are not cancelled. What a time to teach our children these lessons; an opportunity to actively sacrifice for those most vulnerable in our community. Our conectedness and humanness are so clear right now. Perseverance is not cancelled. This is a time to practice doing hard things. Things we may have never done before. Collaboration is not cancelled. Here we are, in this together.


We are here for you, as we know you are here for us. These are unprecedented times. Times of change and growth. I'll be sitting at home with Rudy eagerly awaiting your emails.


Leaning into the Good Stuff,

Hannah Knox

Managing Anxiety & Stress from the CDC

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
  • Children and teens
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call

  • 911
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSAexternal icon) website.

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.

Things you can do to support yourself

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful..

When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.

For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Learn more about helping children cope.

For responders

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

  • Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).
  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.
  • Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.
  • Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.
  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.

For people who have been released from quarantine

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include :

  • Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  • Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
  • Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
  • Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
  • Other emotional or mental health changes

Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine. You can help your child cope.


Resources

For Everyone

For Communities

For Families and Children

For First Responders

Estes Valley Resources

Estes Valley Community Resource List - This list has everything from mental health providers to food/clothing resources to affordable housing access. Please use it as a starting point in looking for what our community can provide.

Parent Toolkit - The Parent Toolkit is a one-stop shop resource that was produced and developed with parents in mind. It can help you navigate your child’s journey from pre-kindergarten through high school in topics such as academics, heath & wellness, financial literacy, and college/career. Its creators have worked with experts across the country including classroom teachers, college professors, pediatricians, dietitians, psychologists, and parents, to make the resource as robust and useful as possible.

Mental Wellness & Addiction Recovery Guide - The Mental Wellness and Addiction Recovery guide is a free resource for Coloradans considering recovery. The website is a practical, one-stop guide that helps users understand if they or a loved one has a mental health or substance use disorder, as well as where to get treatment and what to expect from various treatment levels. It also offers a comprehensive set of resources explaining the ins and outs of insurance coverage, patient rights, support options for caregivers, and more.

Behavioral Health Financial Assistance Application - Estes Park School District is able to financially provide for behavioral health services for our students. If you need financial assistance in starting or continuing behavioral health services, please contact me. We can reimburse for behavioral health services and also mileage to those appointments. Email me for more information at hannah_knox@estesschools.org

School Counseling during Closure

Our entire team is still available and just a click away during this closure. We are all adapting as this situation evolves and we appreciate your taking these new steps with us. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Email is the best way to get in touch! We do not have physical access to our office phones at this time and our professional guidelines do not allow our cell phone numbers to be given to students or families. We can check voicemail remotely but email is the most efficient way to get in touch with us. We do have capability to set up Zoom meetings or use various tools in the Google Platform to have voice/video conversations. Please keep in mind that all of our Estes Park School District emails are public record and thus not the best mode of communication for highly confidential information (just like any district or government entity in the state per the Colorado Open Records Act).
  • We will be working during our typical work hours. Monday-Friday 8 am - 5 pm.
  • We will be taking a BREAK during the scheduled Spring Break March 23-27.
  • What we CAN provide: Appraisal and Advisement, Short-term Counseling, Consultation & Collaboration, and Referrals.
  • What we CANNOT provide: Crisis Intervention and Long-term Counseling.

Crisis Resources

If you or a loved one is experiencing an emergency call 911. If you or a loved one are in crisis and need to immediately talk to someone, please call or text Colorado Crisis Services. 844-493-8255​ or text TALK to 38255.

Educator Resources

From the American School Counselor Association: Here are some suggestions and resources to consider as you provide support to your students regarding COVID-19. Before you take any action, consult with your district to discover any guidance or response initiatives it has in place so your actions align with school and district programs. School counselors also should:
  • Encourage parents to limit their children's exposure to the media
  • Provide a calming influence to students as needed
  • Help students address their fears
Centers for Disease Control
Coronavirus Disease 2019
Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
Guidance for School Settings Before and During an Outbreak

U.S. Department of Education
COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnnel
Protecting Student Privacy

SAMHSA
Coping with Stress During an Infectious Disease Outbreak

Child Mind Institute
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus

Center for American Progress
How K-12 Schools Should Prepare for Coronavirus

National School Boards Association
COVID-19: Preparing for Widespread Illness in Your School Community: A Legal Guide for School Leaders

Share My Lesson
Coronavirus Student Guide: Explnations and News Updates

National Education Association
Schools and Coronavirus

National Association of School Psychologists
Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource

Employee Assistance Program

If you are an employee of Estes Park School District, you have access to our Employee Assistance Program. Please contact Kim Morris at kim_morris@psdr3.k12.co.us and see the attached PDF for more information.

Hannah Knox, M.Ed., LPC, NCC

I am a professional that believes in the empowerment of youth to create meaningful change in this world. The majority of my time is serving Estes students (and families) through direct service, case collaboration, and case management. I support staff through education, consultation, and resource referrals. I also work with community providers for wrap-around support for individual cases, community events, group offerings, and mental health crisis preparation.