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Creating opportunities for staff to check in with one another and talk through any anxieties or fears they are experiencing is a key piece of that strategy. Providing similar social connection points for students to talk to staff about any challenges they are facing is also important in quashing feelings of isolation.
“The antidote to anxiety and isolation is the development of social connections,” Enion said.
How those social connections are fostered will have to look different to follow health and safety guidelines, however. Enion said RPS is looking at ways to do this without holding its normal group sessions, whether that be one-on-one mentorship or phone calls.
The Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) is also preparing to see more staff and students requesting mental health support, although it is too early in the year to know if those preparations will be needed, said Robin Perreaux, the division’s mental health capacity building co-ordinator.
Perreaux agreed that supports have to start with staff.
“Healthy adults create healthy students,” she said. “If we’re not healthy ourselves, then we can’t support our students in the best way that we can.”
RCSD is building a new section on its website dedicated to mental health supports, with sections specifically for staff, students and families. Once it is up and running, the site will offer a list of places people can go for support. Staff will also be able to access self-care sessions and information on what to do if a student talks to them about their mental health.