Update from the Dean of Student Life and Wellbeing
Many news stories this week have delivered more positive messaging about COVID-19, as we seem to be flattening the curve to some degree and cases may be peaking in some areas. While these stories may have provided some degree of relief from all the negativity associated with our current health crisis, it was devastating to learn of the horrific mass shooting in Nova Scotia last weekend. I read a number of articles about the tragedy, some referencing the Columbine shooting that occurred at this same time, 21 years ago.
School flags will be flown at half-mast on Friday, and under normal circumstances, if we were at school, we would certainly have recognized the tragedy in Nova Scotia in assembly, likely with a moment of silence, reflective remarks and a reminder about the support provided by teachers, advisers and Health Centre personnel. Indeed, sharing emotions like grief and sadness with others can be an effective way of processing shocking events like this. With the inability to be physically together as a community, I would encourage you to reach out to your son about how he is feeling right now; about being socially isolated, the Nova Scotia tragedy, or anything else that may be impacting his wellbeing.
One of the news stories I read in relation to the mass shooting spoke to the necessity of keeping a close eye on our children during this time when their relationships with their friends and peers look very different. Dr. Alexa Bagnell, the Chief of Psychiatry at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax and head of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Dalhousie University refers to warning signs:
“Not sleeping, irritability, and physical complaints like headaches are all normal reactions to dealing with troubling news. But if it extends past a couple weeks or gets more extreme where children are not themselves, feeling very sad, and speaking about things like life is not worth living… those are times to talk to kids more and connect with mental health supports.”
Here’s a link to the full article if interested.
A reminder that our Health Centre team continues to provide confidential online counselling for boys, and is available to answer any questions you may have during this time. Please find an updated Health Centre staff schedule of consultation hours and contact information here.
At the Upper School this week, advising sessions for Year 8 and 9 boys continue to focus on behaviour in the virtual realm, with a look at research that shows that empathy decreases with the more time we spend online. The older boys have been discussing ways to focus on “positives” throughout this challenging time: developing grit, being other-minded and engaging in acts of kindness. The weekly challenge for our Prep boys is centred around the wellbeing dimensions of meaning and accomplishment, asking them to document how they are helping with family chores like folding laundry or loading the dishwasher…I need to get my own teenagers engaged with this challenge!
Thanks for reading,