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Wellbeing | You are not alone!

Photo by Toa Heftiba

“You are not alone.”

Think of the potential and positive impact of these four simple words. We can say this to our kids. We can tell our partners, our friends, our colleagues. We can say it to ourselves. This phrase is just one tiny gift from the podcast I just listened to.

Dr. Harold S. Koplewicz, founder of The Child Mind Institute, was the most recent guest on Dax Sheppard’s Armchair Expert podcast, where they had a conversation about youth and mental health.  

I know I am late to this podcast party, but let me just say that there is so much in this episode to consider as a parent. I recommend you give yourself some time to commit to it (maybe scaffold in a little self-care and take a walk while you listen?). I took some notes, which served as the inspiration for the content in this first wellbeing links article for the 2021–22 school year.

Dr. Koplewicz mentions the movie Dear Evan Hansen, so let’s start by clicking here: Dear Evan Hansen Trailer  for an emotional reminder of what school can feel like. 

Returning to school is not easy for everyone. Is it for anyone? Especially this year.

Here’s a little of what we’re doing at UCC to help, followed by a little of what you can do.

The entire faculty at UCC now have their Mental Health First Aid qualification. We have cast a wide web of caring adults who are trained to know and notice your child beyond their academics or co-curriculars. 

You don’t have to take a course, but it would be worth taking a quick glance at these guides:

Helping stressed out kids

Help your teen with stress

Dr. Koplewicz suggests “catching your kid doing something good.” This is a strength-based approach to parenting. Students in Years 3, 4, 7 and 11 are exploring their strengths in various ways at school this year: Year 7s through the Art and Health & Life Skills curriculum; Years 3 and 4 with The Umbrella Project; and Year 11s through the lens of resilience in their advising program. Ask them about it!

You might invite all members of your family to take the (free) Values in Action survey  (there is an adult version as well as a youth one) and then have some discussion around how strengths contribute to the family dynamic and how they can help you appreciate one another. Or just take a look at this umbrella together. This would be especially awesome if you have these chats over family dinner, which we know is proven to have a huge impact in regards to supporting kids’ mental health. 

“Everyone has worries. What do you worry about?” — that’s something Dr. Koplewicz often says to his clients. This could be a helpful question to ask your child. Psychotherapist Dr. Lori Gottlieb’s teenage son Zachary just penned this powerful article in Time magazine: It’s Time for Boys to Talk about Emotional Health. Zachary is right. We can do better to help boys understand and navigate emotions. The Upper School advising program makes space for these kinds of conversations, specifically relevant to their developmental stage, and supports the students with skills and habits they can practice.  

And what about you and your emotional landscape these days? You are not alone. Dax and Dr. Koplewicz spoke about parental stress and the need for parents to self care. Here are Six Ways to Deal with Parental Burnout. I have already test driven this one and it worked: Try a mindful break, such as the “STOP” method: Stop. Take a deep breath with a longer exhale. Dig your feet into the ground as you tune into your five senses. Observe what you’re thinking and feeling. Then decide on the “next right thing” and Proceed with intention. 

Your feedback and questions are always welcome.

Laurie Fraser
Coordinator, Student Wellbeing Programs and Year 9 Coordinator