For students, social distancing and school closure related to COVID-19 means sustained social isolation, a loss of support networks, and a profound disruption of the routines they rely on to make sense of the world. Similarly, COVID-19 has financially devastated families, many of whom were struggling already, creating more tension within the family unit. During times of crisis/uncertainty, children require guidance on how to effectively deal with trauma and develop resilience, support which may be lacking in the home.
Students are living through the pandemic itself, while physically isolated from peers and mentors, which generates high levels of fear, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and a bevy of other negative mental health consequences. Particularly for students living with existing mental health conditions, significant learning differences, and disruptive home environments, the safe haven and resources that school and CISDR personnel normally offer are currently inaccessible.
Organizationally, CISDR’s model has focused on assisting students primarily via face-to-face contact by our CISDR Site Staff, being campus based within individual schools and working with those students on that campus and with their parents through home visits. In an era of home confinement, however, this form of service delivery is unfeasible. Yet, it is precisely this moment where students require the most mental health support. The need to virtually connect with students proactively, to offer therapeutic intervention, and to interact with students actively in crisis via technology has never been more pressing.
In this new, changed reality for our students and with this a new system of delivering an education to these students, the support provided to our students, and the relationships the CISDR site staff have built with them is more crucial than ever before. The increase in support needed accentuates the need for our Crisis Intervention Team, (consisting of the CISDR Site Staff and our Clinical Team working in tandem) is even more critical than before the COVID-19 pandemic.