How do I talk to my child about COVID-19?
We know children will have many questions and concerns about COVID-19, why school is closed and when things might get back to “normal.” Be honest and listen. There are many resources available on how to talk to your child about things like a pandemic outbreak. Here is one from the CDC for both adults and children, and one specific to helping children cope with emergencies. In terms of overall mental health, be on the lookout for physical symptoms such as: headaches, excessive worry, stomach aches, increased arguing, irritability, trouble sleeping or eating, loss of concentration, nightmares, withdrawal, clinging behavior, etc. For additional support, families can call 211 or the Crisis Clinic at (360) 586-2800 or text 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor.
Online Resources for COVID-19:
Online Resources for talking to children around Coronavirus (COVID-19):
Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention
In Washington State, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens 15 to 19 years old. According to the Washington Healthy Youth Survey (2016), 28% of eighth graders, 34% of 10th graders, and 37% of 12th graders felt so sad or hopeless for 2 weeks or more that they stopped doing their usual activities. 13% of 8th graders, 17% of 10th graders, and 16% of 12th graders reported making a suicide plan. Most students who reported feeling sad or hopeless said they have an adult to turn to for help, however, 12% of 8th graders, 15% of 10th graders, and 13% of 12th graders report there are not adults for them to turn to when feeling sad or hopeless. Comprehensive suicide prevention planning informs all adults in schools and communities about how to intervene with a young person exhibiting warning signs for suicide. There is a place for everyone in suicide prevention. The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction strives to provide resources and support through the School Safety Center to help inform Educational Service Districts, School Districts, and Schools in the development of Suicide Prevention Plans.
Know the warnings & take action if you see:
- Talking or writing about suicide or death
- Giving direct verbal cues, such as "I wish I were dead" and "I’m going to end it all"
- Giving less direct verbal cues, such as "You will be better off without me," "What’s the point of living?", "Soon you won’t have to worry about me," and "Who cares if I’m dead, anyway?"
- Isolating themselves from friends and family
- Expressing the belief that life is meaningless
- Giving away prized possessions
- Exhibiting a sudden and unexplained improvement in moodafter being depressed or withdrawn
- Neglecting his or her appearance and hygiene
- Dropping outof school or social, athletic, and/or community activities
- Obtaining a weapon (such as a firearm) or another means of hurting themselves (such as prescription medications)
NTPS Students and Mental Health
NTPS has Mental Health Specialists assigned to each of our 22 schools. These professionals hold either a Washington state license as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or are a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and possess an Educational Support Assistant (ESA) certification in counseling or social work. The role of the Mental Health Specialist is to normalize mental health in the schools by communicating with staff, students, and families about mental health topics. Mental Health Specialists provide individualized mental health support and crisis intervention to students referred by the school counselor.
- provide preventive education on mental health,
- facilitate small therapeutic groups,
- working one on one with students in need of short term mental health support,
- connect students and families to community resources, and
- respond to mental health crisis that may arise in the school
What do I do if I am concerned about a student’s mental health?
Everyone who talks with children can do something to help. There are many resources available but no one knows more about how to get children to the right resources than the child’s school counselor. They are the contact person for community resources outside of your school and for referral to mental health services in the school. Their contact information is available on your school's website.
What can I do as a parent to help my child?
- Let the child know that you are listening
- Be on the lookout for physical symptoms such as: headaches, excessive worry, stomach aches, increased arguing, irritability, trouble sleeping or eating, loss of concentration, nightmares, withdrawal, clinging behavior, etc.
- If you are concerned about your child, talk directly with their school counselor, family doctor, community mental health professional, or the Crisis Clinic 360-586-2800.