How families can help their students as pandemic, hybrid learning takes its toll on mental health

Coronavirus

For eight months, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many aspect of our lives.

And many parents their children’s mental health is suffering.

For most students Zoom or hybrid learning are the only options right now. 

Mental health experts say paying attention to your child is more important than ever because of the enormous stress on students.

Many students are worrying about the future and are feeling anxious, fearful and even depressed. Experts say it’s because many students no longer have that sense of structure and stimulation school provides. 

The Jordan family is struggling to make this new way of learning work. Owen Jordan is in 8th grade at a middle school in Arlington Heights. His mother Lisa Jordan said Owen used to be the first one up in the morning, eager and ready to go to school.

But that’s changed.

He was hybrid learning until last week when his school returned to remote only.  

Owen, a straight a student, said he’s under tremendous stress to keep his grades up while finding balance doing everything from home.

“It’s hard to stay focused,” he said. “There’s so much distraction all around you at home.”

Lisa Jordan noticed changes in her 14-year-old son. He was sleeping more and more stressed and anxious. Lisa Jordan is a former ER nurse and ER director and knew they were red flags. 

“As a mother, you want to make everything right for your kids,” she said “When you can’t make changes for them it hurts your heart.”

“It’s just very hard to feel connected when we’re all physically and mentally separated,” Owen Jordan said.

Typically for students, school is where you worked and home is your sanctuary. But with siblings and parents working from home too, nothing seems normal.

When rules constantly change, routines can also constantly change.

Educational and behavioral therapist Frannie Jordan, who is no relation to the family, says parents have to send more positive messages.  Families should re-invent and re-inspire their children.

“The day passes and they’re slowly feeling more and more isolated,” she said.

Frannie Jordan said students need to know there’s a point to what they’re doing and they have a purpose. 

She said purpose, collaboration, instructional needs, motivation, structure are all keys to success during this very trying time.

“Take a shower, set mealtimes,” she said. “Don’t graze all day because you can.”

Frannie Jordan suggests to have a talk with your kids and watch for changing behaviors.  She also said to ask for help if needed. Always err on the side of caution and give yourself a break.  

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