Supporting Students During Times of Global Conflict
By Ann Mellon and Kathy Pawlukiewicz, SANDCASP Board Members
In light of recent and ongoing devastating news in the Middle East and other parts of the world, it is crucial that we prioritize student wellness, particularly in regard to mental health. As mental health professionals in the school setting, school psychologists play a vital role in supporting students who may be experiencing trauma and uncertainty. Although many students are resilient and often bounce back after difficult times, these events interrupt our sense of order and safety.
SANDCASP is committed to standing alongside the communities, organizations, and individuals across the nation that are banding together in the fight to end systemic racism and violence. We hear you, we honor you, and we stand with you in the call for justice and equity for all humankind.
With our vision of achieving a whole-child approach to education and our mission to promote the psychological well-being of children, excellence in education, and sensitivity to social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, we must approach our work through a trauma-informed lens.
Here are some talking points to guide our interactions and interventions:
1. Create a safe and supportive environment: Foster a sense of safety and trust in the school setting, allowing students to express their thoughts and emotions without judgment. Emphasize the importance of empathy and understanding.
2. Recognize the impact of trauma: Understand that students may be directly or indirectly affected by traumatic events. Be aware of the signs of trauma and provide appropriate support and resources.
3. Practice self-care: Take care of your own well-being to ensure that you can effectively support students. Seek support from colleagues and engage in self-care activities to prevent burnout.
4. Collaborate with other professionals: Work collaboratively with teachers, administrators, and other mental health professionals to develop a comprehensive support system for students. Share resources and strategies to address the unique needs of students affected by trauma.
5. Provide psychoeducation: Educate students, staff, and families about the impact of trauma and the importance of mental health. Offer resources and information on coping strategies and resilience-building techniques.
6. Individualize support: Tailor interventions and support to meet the specific needs of each student. Consider cultural and individual differences when developing strategies for coping and healing.
7. Advocate for resources: Advocate for additional resources and support services to address the mental health needs of students affected by trauma. Collaborate with community organizations and agencies to provide comprehensive care.