Mental Health Moment These “Mental Health Moments” come from Joy Hensel and the NE MN Synod Mental Health Initiative Team to encourage and support you as you address the mental health needs of youth, families and all ages during COVID-19. Click here for archived Mental Health Moments
March 31, 2020 This week's words come from a conversation between Joy Hensel and Biz Sorenson, a school based therapist...
Joy: What are you seeing and hearing from adolescents about Covid-19?
Biz: Overall, the students that have a home, food, parents/guardians available to support them are reporting doing well, if not better than normal due to the removed stressors that come with school. If anything, the primary mood coming across is “annoyed” and they’re lacking structure and purposeful activity and feeling “stir crazy.” The students who rely on school as their primary support system are starting to report real anxiety, sadness, and anger about not getting to be at school, not being able to work, and missing those pieces that provide structure, support, and safety to their lives.
Joy: There seem to be so many resources “out there” to help during these new days. What do parents need to hear right now?
Biz: There are a ton of resources online. My main response has been normalizing the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed, reminding parents they are NOT expected to be amazing teachers, employees, spouses and parents….I’m teaching the mantra “good enough is good enough.” I also am encouraging parents and adolescents to lower their own expectations of perfection and do what they can in the moment. One thing at a time. I focus a lot with both parents and students on what they have control over as opposed to the many things they don’t have control over. I also focus on the skill of radical acceptance.
Joy: When our lives and the world feel out of control, one thing at a time, one day at a time, one hour at a time, can be a good and powerful reminder.
Biz: Yes. Radically accepting the reality and feelings that come with it while mindfully engaging with what is in their control is one helpful strategy. I also focus on reminding clients and families that this struggle is temporary. Seasonal. This is a season not a permanent state of being. I also am seeing the importance of allowing people to have grace for themselves and others.
Joy: What about those adolescents who already experience mental illness?
Biz: For students who already have mental illness it is all about going back to the basics of self-care. I use the PLEASE skill with clients. Treat Physical Illness(take meds), Balanced Eating, Avoid Mood Altering Drugs, Sleep and Exercise.
Joy: What are some of your go to resources for these days that you are willing to share?