School year to begin with more mental health supports

Newport Mental Health shares advice for parents

Posted 8/27/21

PORTSMOUTH — Some students who have been remotely learning for well over a year are facing mental health challenges, according to Newport Mental Health (NMH) professionals.

“The …

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School year to begin with more mental health supports

Newport Mental Health shares advice for parents

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Some students who have been remotely learning for well over a year are facing mental health challenges, according to Newport Mental Health (NMH) professionals.

“The students who have been working remotely throughout the past year and a half are developing social anxiety about being around other people because they’ve had limited interactions with others,” said Marcia Tryon, NMH’s manager of family and children. “They’re anxious about returning to the school building.” 

To help ease the anticipated need among youth, especially the growing Spanish-speaking population, NMH has expanded its school-based program with the hiring of a bilingual clinician, Katia Custer. 

NMH is poised to hire additional school-based clinicians and is raising the required funds to do so. Ms. Tryon and Ms. Custer are working in the Portsmouth and Newport school systems, and plan to expand services to other school districts in Newport County as additional specialists are hired.

Regarding the Latino community, Ms. Custer urges Spanish-speaking parents to “know that services are available regardless of the challenges” they may be facing. 

NMH CEO Jamie Lehane added that if people are not “comfortably fluent,” they have the right to receive services in their language at institutions that receive federal funding (community mental health centers, such as NMH and others). Translation services, forms, and other documentation in a variety of locally spoken languages are also available.

To quell higher-than-usual emotions in children this year, Ms. Tryon and Ms. Custer provided the following evidence-based advice for parents and guardians:

• Start now, a few weeks before school to break into school routines, especially this year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “having a rested body and knowing what to expect at home (by establishing routines) helps children cope.” Ms. Tryon likens routines to “breaking in new shoes. Start now establishing a routine, getting enough sleep, limiting social media, and wearing your mask.”

• To avoid some of the anxiety around the mask mandate, parents can make sure their children understand the important reasons for wearing masks and find masks that feel comfortable.  

• Prepare children for the possibility that they may have to return to remote learning. It’s often easier for youth to cope with challenges and transitions if they are part of the conversation. Make sure children know that you will listen and support them. Keep encouraging them to communicate their feelings.   

Established in 1964, NMH offers mental health and substance use services to the 82,000 residents of Newport County. On an annual basis, NMH serves over 1,450 clients, regardless of their ability to pay.

For more information, visit newportmentalhealth.org.

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