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Dec
22

Mental Health During the Holidays

The media often presents the holidays as a cheerful time for all. Images of couples kissing under the mistletoe and families gathered around a warm fire dominate our screens throughout the season.

But sometimes, what should be a joyful time instead reminds people of the challenges in their lives; couples being asked when they’ll have children while silently battling with infertility or miscarriages, reminders of lost loved ones, family members experiencing the criminal justice system, or interactions with people who may have caused harm and trauma.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people with mental illness report that the holidays make their conditions worse. Children and teens are not immune from this, as the highest rate of child psychiatric hospitalizations occurs in the winter.

For young women and girls, who according to the CDC experience higher rates of depression than their male counterparts, it is especially important to have access to resources that help them cope with seasonal stress, depression and anxiety brought on by the holidays.

Pace provides support to girls by centering their experiences as young women in today’s world and recognizing how trauma may inform the choices they make.

“This Christmas will be hard for us because this will be the first Christmas without my dad,” said Jennifer, a 16-year old Pace student. “He passed on the 25th of September of this year, so the 25th of December will be even harder. I see my mom doing her best to be strong, so I’m trying to be strong for her. I just wish people understood that Christmas isn’t about presents – it’s about family, so don’t take them for granted.”

We could all use a little more kindness in our lives, so it’s always important to remember that you never know the internal struggles the person in front of you may be smiling through.

Everyone, regardless of their story, deserves safe and supportive spaces to heal. Keep in mind, it’s ok to take care of yourself in whatever way is best for you this holiday season.

Oct
08

Teachers are Being Called on to Support Students Total Wellbeing

Teachers are increasingly being called on to be educators, counselors, and support systems for students. Schooling has been turned into a “universal large-scale experiment.” As of October of 2021, education in the United States has been impacted by COVID-19 for a year and a half.

While not alone, Pace Center for Girls has felt the push and pull of changes to learning, ways to support positive behavioral health, and how to provide a safe and trusting environment for our team members as well as our girls. We have experienced the deep systemic inequities of our families, differing approaches to dealing with stress, disrupted carefully crafted routines at our centers, and enhanced the vision of schools as “social-service providers and connectors”.

In the following PBS NewsHour Extra video, teens discuss feelings of negative thoughts, isolation, a desire to stay optimistic, and the need of love, support, and encouragement while going to school during the pandemic.

Although trauma-informed and trauma-responsive care is at the core of Pace Center for Girls services, this pandemic brings about new and challenging opportunities.

We, at Pace Center for Girls hear these concerns from our students as well. As we continue to live through, now the impact of the Delta Variant; dedicated educators and counselors at Pace Center for Girls continue to wrestle with how to ensure that collective care and responsibility for learning and self-care are constructed.

Our focus was and remains answering the question: How do we help balance our girls and team members’ physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing?

As our team members work diligently to support our girls, we have seen positivity and ingenuity through adoption of remote educational and social emotional technologies to help with this balance, improve grades, build good relationships with teachers and counselors, and ways to reduce class sizes.

  1. Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing allows our counselors and teachers to engage with our girls in both auditory and visual manners. Our National Office team members check in for counselors and teachers to assist in reducing anxiety a way for team members to participate in meetings, and easy access to classroom assignments.
  2. Smiling Mind App created by psychologist and educators, this mindfulness app assists with, staying connected, using self-care, and achieving emotional calmness.
  3. Wakelet provides a place for teachers to curate content and student a place to collaborate.
  4. Nearpod provides classroom curriculum that is tied to Florida Standards and allow the girls to engage our girls in remote and in classroom learning sessions.
  5. Google Classrooms to allow for creation, distribution and grading of lessons as well as assignments.
  6. Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere, and Padlet are all websites that encourage real-time response through live polls, quizzes and word clouds to check in with our girls and create engagement during group sessions and classroom lessons.
  7. Kahoot has a library of Social Emotional Lessons that help build empathy, provide opportunities to check in and even build resilience.

According to Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, the key to success is grit. So, as we move through this unprecedented time, we need to remind ourselves of two things:

  1. The importance and continuation of providing self-care, and
  2. that having passion, perseverance, and stamina to ensure your achievement of future goals is our way toward a better future.
Apr
23

Counselors Recognized in April in Support of Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness

The American Counseling Association has designated April as Counseling Awareness Month, which is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions and work of professional counselors. The global pandemic has illuminated the critical role counselors play in all stages of personal development. One positive outcome is the elevation of conversations around normalizing the impact of counseling, care, and treatment.  

…View Full Story “Counselors Recognized in April in Support of Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness”