New Jersey Department of Education

Supporting the Emotional Well-Being of Students

As students may be impacted in multiple ways by COVID-19 and the closure of schools, it is critical that we are mindful of their emotional well-being. We encourage school districts to share the below strategies and resources with their school community. In addition to educational resources, there are supports available 24 hours a day/7 days a week should a parent or educator be concerned about a student’s well-being.

  • Children’s System of Care: Call this number to find out about services for children and teens with emotional and behavioral health care challenges—1-877-652-7624
  • Crisis Text Line: Connect with a crisis counselor to help defuse a “hot” moment or crisis—Text “HOME” to 741741
  • NJ Hopeline: 1-855-654-6735
  • 2nd Floor: 1-888-222-2228

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) reminds us that, “It is very important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. Acknowledging some level of concern, without panicking, is appropriate and can result in taking the necessary actions that reduce the risk of illness. Teaching children positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety. This is also a tremendous opportunity for adults to model for children problem-solving, flexibility, and compassion as we all work through adjusting daily schedules, balancing work and other activities, getting creative about how we spend time, processing new information from authorities, and connecting and supporting friends and family members in new ways.” 

Having Conversations around COVID-19

Having conversations with our students and children around COVID-19 can be difficult. The following resources are designed as a primer to give you background information on “How to” have these conversations and the areas you want to make sure to address:

Emotional Support for Children during COVID-19

According to an article published in Child Trends, below are some steps you can take to support the emotional well-being of children during this time:

Some children may internalize the uncertainty they are feeling during this time, which may result in anxiety, acting out, withdrawing/isolating behaviors, or depression. Allowing children to discuss their feelings, share their thoughts, and participate in how their “new normal” routines are planned may help ease some of their worry during this ambiguous time. The following resources may be helpful to parents and educators:

School and District Mental Health Support Resources

School and district staff can assist students and school community members who may be facing increased mental health challenges in response to COVID-19. Schools provide services beyond general academic instruction, and in emergency situations school and district staff are often sought for reassurance. Below are resources that schools and districts may consider exploring with their designated mental health professionals to plan for how they may support students and community members that may be facing mental health challenges in response to COVID-19:  

Supporting Students through Loss and Traumatic Events

Grief is a natural reaction to loss of any kind. It may be a deep sorrow due to the death of a beloved family member, friend, pet, or community member. It may be the mourning of a job loss, the end of a relationship, or to a routine or expectation with which we have become comfortable. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Beliefs, religious practices, and cultural customs are a few factors that affect the way we mourn. Grief offers us an opportunity to learn compassion for ourselves and others. Grief can teach us about honoring where we have been so that we can welcome what comes next.

During this difficult time, the NJ Traumatic Loss Coalitions (TLC) continues to be available to provide support to schools following a traumatic loss event.  Examples of services that may be provided include:

  • Consultation and resources for schools regarding ways to support the mental health needs of those in the school community
  • Assistance for the school administration and/or crisis team in assessing the impact to the school community and identifying those who require services
  • Assistance with drafting notifications and communication to those in the school community
  • Pertinent resources for staff, parents, and students
  • Co-facilitation of the response with school personnel to provide Psychological First Aid (PFA) through a school’s virtual communication platform (e.g., Google Hangouts)

In the event that your school needs the above services, contact the coordinator for your county for assistance.  You may also find it helpful to contact the Statewide Coordinator, Maureen Brogan, at 732-235-2810.

In addition to support from the TLC, the following resources may be helpful to support students through loss and traumatic events.

Resources for Educators

Resources for Parents/Caregivers

Page Last Updated: 06/01/2022

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