Congratulations! You did it. You completed a full Zoom-year.
Students, parents, guardians, educators, pat yourselves on the back. You all did it.
As we head into summer, we spoke with youth mental health experts at Wellness Together…over Zoom...about how graduating seniors are feeling.
Nonprofit Wellness Together helps BlueSky, our signature youth mental health initiative, reach young people by placing mental health specialists in middle and high schools. When California schools closed in mid-March, Wellness Together, immediately transitioned from on campus-based therapy services to virtual meetings – via Zoom or over the phone. Throughout this full year of virtual education, Wellness Together conducted 4,004 professional counseling sessions with youth with support from BlueSky. For some students, this was the first time they accessed mental health support.
According to BlueSky counselors, graduating seniors are feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. Graduates have the enviable task of carving out new paths for themselves. One might think there would be a sense of relief – no more exams, placement tests, online schooling, or assignments. However, during these uncertain times, there is an added level of anxiety as they transition into becoming college students, or starting work.
Moving Into the Next Chapter
BlueSky counselors, like Tayler Trotter at Otay Ranch High School in San Diego County, are helping students navigate these uncharted territories as independent, young adults. Trotter encourages students to focus on identifying their emotions, and to ground and center themselves through meditation, deep breathing, and guided imagery. She helps students prioritize tasks, so the unknown future is not so overwhelming. “It can be as simple as making a short list of goals for the week, or working with a teacher to adjust an assignment, or deadline. Let’s assure our seniors that they will be supported in this next chapter in their lives.”
To help youth cope, Jeremiah Aja, assistant director at Wellness Together, emphasizes a call-to-action for parents and school staff: lead with empathy. He says, “The depth and breadth of our relationships are one of the biggest impactors of students’ mental health, which has been challenged over this last year. Fortunately, with new resources and coping skills learned during BlueSky counseling sessions, hundreds of California youth have grown more capable of making it through difficult situations.”
Back to Basics
As we enter a new summer, let’s revisit the ABCs of self-care:
“We are grateful to have this partnership with BlueSky because it means we can be there for students and families, who may not have reached out before or had the access,” adds Aja. “Out of this pandemic, we have seen a reduction in stigma surrounding mental health. It’s promising, and we look forward to what this next school year can bring with more conversations and more access around youth mental health.”
To graduates, students of all ages, their families, and educators, have a happy summer and congratulations on a job well done!
Please click here for resources about youth mental health.
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Blue Shield of California’s BlueSky Initiative enhances access, awareness, and advocacy of youth mental health supports in collaboration with the California Department of Education and leading nonprofit organizations. BlueSky supports California youth mental health by providing access to clinicians in middle and high schools, training educators on the signs of mental health issues, and empowering students with in-person and online mental health support resources.