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How the pandemic is affecting children’s mental health

nolacatholicparenting's podcast

Release Date: 12/17/2020

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Clarion Herald associate editor and editor Peter Finney talk with local education and mental health leaders about children’s mental health during the pandemic.   Christine: As we endure the 1-th month of the pandemic, I wondered how children were doing. I’ve invited invited Dr. RaeNell Houston, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans; Dr. Doug Walker, Ph.D., chief programs director and a clinical psychologist with Mercy Family Center which offers counseling services for all ages; and Charlotte Phillips, one of our NOLA Catholic Parenting writers and...

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nolacatholicparenting's podcast

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More Episodes

Clarion Herald associate editor and editor Peter Finney talk with local education and mental health leaders about children’s mental health during the pandemic.

 

Christine: As we endure the 1-th month of the pandemic, I wondered how children were doing. I’ve invited invited Dr. RaeNell Houston, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans; Dr. Doug Walker, Ph.D., chief programs director and a clinical psychologist with Mercy Family Center which offers counseling services for all ages; and Charlotte Phillips, one of our NOLA Catholic Parenting writers and bloggers and a parent of four children.

 

1:40 Charlotte said being back in school has helped with kids’ happiness. They are still sad with less activities, no birthday parties.

 

Christine: Mercy Family Center has completed 6,000 virtual counseling sessions since the pandemic.

 

2:20 Dr. Walker: Mercy gets calls from adults and children every day. Psychiatry and social work services. In past few weeks, there has been an increase in calls for kids. Possibly due to the expectation of Christmas and grief and loss they have experienced over past year

 

3:10 Christine: What is Dr. Walker hearing about what kids are feeling?

 

3:10 Dr. Walker: Depression and anxiety are tops. Pre-existing conditions are exacerbated by pandemic and having adjustment issue to the new normal.

 

4:00 Christine: Asked Dr. RaeNell Houston what has been the common mental health experience of kids in Catholic schools in the archdiocese

 

4:40 Dr. Houston: School leaders were encouraged on Google meets to tell teacher to reach out to families so teachers could keep a pulse of students academically and socially. This started in the fourth quarter so they knew how Less than 5 percent of population chose remote learning due to underline health issues or living with people who are immune-compromised. She is seeing students having trouble paying attention, concentration for a long period of time, memory, losing spark for creativity, anxiety depression.

 

5:30 Christine asked Dr. Walker about Mercy Famiiy Center’s How’s Your Five cube to help disaster victims express themselves.

 

6:45. Dr. Walker was born in Joplin, Missouri, after its EF5 tornado and Mercy Family Center was invited due to experience with Katrina and BP Oil Spill. Peer-to-peer work and school, relationships, support, love, relationships, sleep habits and consuming food and alcohol. Conglomerate of Mercy has adopted it systemwide with its 45,00 employees as a reinforcement of support for each other.

8:00 Christine asked if How’s Your 5 has been adapted to the pandemic.

8:06: Some schools have used How’s Your Five, but they decided not to start a new or reworked program in the middle of a crisis.

8:40: Dr. Houston said Catholic School systems has always partnered with community partners like Mercy Family Center, Ascension-DePaul, Children’s Hospital to help students with mental health and behavioral health. Schools are the first line of defense and she has been leaning on partners.

9:35 Dr. Houston said they have licensed counselors and social workers that work with Catholic school families and students and are doing small group therapy sessions and guidance session to help students with emotional learning and coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety. Elementary schools, instead of foreign language, are doing guidance sessions.

10:25 Christine asked Dr. Walker about 15-year-old Project fleur de Lis that had provided services in schools

10:45 Dr. Walker said Project Fleur de Lis was in transition and conducting more training/consultancy around best practices for trauma to counselors and others than direct services in the classroom to students. Will create online educational platforms. This way their boundaries could reach nationwide.

11:57 Peter asked Dr. Houston about pandemic outbreaks when students returned to on-campus learning.

12:20 Dr. Houston said most faculty and staff were glad to return to the classroom and hasn’t shut down any school due to outbreaks. Catholic schools have not had significant clusters in any school. When a positive case does crop u, they contact CDC to find out who needs to isolate, who needs to quarantine and the school follows that protocol to isolate or quarantine or how long. Teachers who might test positive or be exposed to someone who is positive, they can teach from home. They work to stop the spread.

14:45: Christine asked Dr. Houston if a student tests positive, it’s been the class quarantines on home for so many days.

14:59: Dr. Houston said there is a 48-hour protocol before classmates or teachers have to isolate.

15:45: Christine asked Dr. Houston about her daughter who has special needs and is immune-compromised.

16 Dr. Houston said her daughter is doing better than she thought. She is virtual learning and Zooming and Google Meets and is not in after-school activities because of her condition. She has been anxious at times, but she is paying close attention and gives her mechanisms to cope with the changes.

17:00 Christine asked Dr. Walker for tips to help families help their children with the stressors and changes that the pandemic has caused their children.

17:45 Dr. Walker said managing sleep is probably the best thing parents can do to help children; maybe even more than eating. These virtual lives in school and even gaming or social in the evening, the young brain sees all this as sunrise. Also, to manage routines and expectations in a world where we can’t predict what’s going to happen a day later and managing flexibility and good coping. And, if you see anything unusual, ask others who know your children if they notice something different. Talk to teachers and counselors and take action.

 

19:15 Charlotte is used to being outdoors with her children, so has used nature and the activities outdoors to keep her children mentally sounds and happy. She realized early on during the quarantine that not having a schedule wasn’t going to work. She created a schedule and included outdoor activities was incorporated every day – outside the four walls. She kept with bedtime routines. She thought it is important as Catholics to keep daily prayer time. Keeping her daily prayer kept her less anxious and worry and that keeps her kids with less worry. It’s a reminder that we are not here alone, God it with us, too.