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Conversations About Student Mental Health

Conversations About Student Mental Health

Author: Christopher J. Leonard, MSW, LCSW, M.ED

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In this podcast, we talk with school administrators, educators, clinicians, and parents to open a dialogue that will help the growing number of students struggling with mental illness.
23 Episodes
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In this episode, Chris Leonard answers questions about what schools can do to encourage healthy social media usage by their students, and prevent the problems that arise from harmful behavior on social media. The questions were submitted by school administrators, counselors, and teachers during our recent webinar: “Untangling the Web: How Social Media Affects Mental Health and How to Help.”Highlights include:How to address concerns about suicidal ideation What to do when negative in...
In this episode of Conversations About Student Mental Health, Chris Leonard tackles the question of how to prepare teachers to support the growing social and emotional needs of students. Chris talks with Steven Cates, an interventionist at Southside Community School in Tucson, Arizona, and a participant in Thrive Alliance Group’s Coaching, Training, and Certification program. Chris and Steven discuss a new approach to mental wellness support: raising the capacity of the entire staff to improv...
This episode of Conversations About Student Mental Health explores the mindset shift that is necessary to create a culture and climate of mental health and wellness in your school. Making this shift is one of three critical facets of maximizing the mental health and wellness of students. Chris Leonard talks with Dr. Ricki Gibbs, Principal of Warner Arts Magnet Elementary in Nashville, who has assumed stewardship of the climate and culture of mental wellness in his school and is seeing me...
It’s no secret that the mental health needs of youth have been intensifying. Getting young people the treatment they need in a crisis has become a greater challenge because of the length of time they must spend in the emergency room (often more than 12 hours) waiting for risk assessments and acute follow up care.In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with Shana Palmieri, the co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of XFERALL, an innovative mobile technology platform that can help schools (and hea...
As the COVID pandemic rages on, students are facing significant challenges, including:Overcoming learning lossDramatic increases in mental health issues among children and teens (leading to rising rates of emergency department visits and suicide attempts)Increased gun violence against children and school shootingsProlonged social isolationIncreases in behavioral issues in the classroom and beyond.In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with three teachers about the difficulties they are facing, ...
In the past 18 months, many students experienced gaps in academic, social, and emotional development. Parents are worried about what their children have missed and how their school will ensure stability and readiness for what comes next. Needless to say, the current situation can be a recipe for tension between parents and educators. So how do we foster positive working relationships between educators and parents? Chris Leonard talks with Dr. Gerry Crisonino, Assistant Superintendent of Speci...
In this episode, Chris Leonard shares advice for parents to help their school-refusing child get back to school. Chris and his guest also touch on how schools can partner with parents to form a team to help a student get back on track.This time, Chris gets interviewed by his guest, Jayne Demsky. Jayne is a parent who once faced her own son’s school avoidance and became an advocate for families dealing with this challenging issue. She founded School Refusal Hope in 2014 and recently launched h...
After more than a year of hybrid and remote learning, students have experienced a new normal of staying home. School professionals are concerned that a wave of school refusal will hit us this fall. How can we prepare?In this episode, Chris talks about strategies for school refusal intervention with Dr. Paul Barbato, Director of Special Services in Dumont, NJ Public Schools. Dr. Barbato is also an Adjunct Professor at three NJ colleges and holds leadership positions in several key NJ education...
As we return to full-time, in-person learning, educators expect even more students to struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues that interfere with their ability to learn and succeed in school. It's clear that there is a mental health gap that we urgently need to close in order to address the academic gap from lost learning during the pandemic, and ultimately to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students. Teachers, administrators, and school counselors must be rea...
Dealing with race, equality, and bias is a problem that continues to confound Americans, in large part because we are not even comfortable talking about it. Yet our children and teens are watching events unfold in the world and they have questions, real questions. As educators, we need to support thoughtful dialogue. So how do we talk to our students and to each other in ways that are constructive and productive?In this episode, Chris talks with LaCoyya Weathington, Assistant Superintendent f...
We've all seen the national news reports declaring this spring's remote learning a disaster. Students and parents were worried about not feeling engaged, lacking socialization, and being just plain bored. Although schools are trying to create safe in-person learning, most will start the year in a hybrid mix of in-person and remote learning.In this episode, Chris talks with Dr. Nancy Sulla, author of five books on creating student-driven, blended learning environments. Dr. Sulla’s instructiona...
Dealing with Grief

Dealing with Grief

2020-05-2747:22

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought grief to the forefront, because nearly all of us are grieving right now. Many of us have loved ones who have died. Others have lost jobs, missed out on graduation ceremonies, or lost the daily social interaction that sustains us. What we've all experienced is the undeniable feeling that the future is uncertain. And that we really can't know when, or if, things will feel normal again. Life is never predictable, but we crave certainty, and can feel quite lost w...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks about how to understand and manage the anxiety many of us have been struggling with during the pandemic crisis. His guest is John Reilly, a clinical social worker and certified psychoanalyst with 30 years of experience working with adolescents and adults.Highlights include:Where anxiety comes from and the helpful purpose it can serve.How to lessen the physical symptoms that can come from repressed anxiety.Tips for overcoming unhealthy avoidance habits, suc...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with two experienced special ed teachers about how teachers can support the growing number of students with mental illness... and how school districts must support teachers. Jessica LaForgia and RJ Laxamana share interventions that teachers and school staff can use to help students succeed and ensure a more productive school day for everyone.Highlights include:Signs of mental health issues in the classroomTips for building trust and getting students to ope...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with Pat Hovey, a leader and innovator among NJ Directors of Special Services. Pat has worked to implement and fund successful programs for students with mental health problems in several New Jersey school districts, as well as serving as an advisor to numerous other districts. Chris and Pat discuss the process of obtaining funding for student mental health support, as well as funding sources.Highlights include:Your first point of contact when looking to f...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with Dr. Mary Rose Scalo, a former Director of Special Services in Wayne and in Parsippany. Chris and Mary Rose discuss strategies for dealing with the heightened stress experienced by students, families, and staff during the holiday season and when transitioning back to school after the break. Highlights include:How to identify struggling students who may be falling through the cracksTips for preventing a spike in school refusal following the breakWh...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with Linda McGovern, a mental health clinician embedded full time in the Randolph, New Jersey public school district. Linda has worked effectively with many students struggling with school avoidance, and offers advice and specific strategies that schools can use to transition these students back to school. Highlights include:How to build a support team (and who should be on it).Why a disciplinary approach doesn’t work (and what works better).The role ...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with a parent of a student who struggled with school avoidance. This is an increasingly common problem faced by students, families, and school districts, and one that’s challenging to overcome. Laura describes her daughter Kelly’s battle with school avoidance and shares the intervention strategies that ultimately helped Kelly get back to school.Highlights include:How school avoidance is different from truancy.The warning signs that a student may be on the ...
In this episode, Chris Leonard talks with Robert Ferullo (Principal of Weehawken High School and former Special Education Supervisor) about the proactive steps schools can take to prevent tragedies such as shootings and suicides. This can be a sensitive issue — one that we may prefer not to think about. But school administrators list preventing school tragedies among their top concerns.Highlights include:What happens when schools ignore students' emotional needsWhy a "softer" approach is reco...
In this episode Chris Leonard, Thrive’s Chief Learning Officer, spoke with Alina Liao, the founder and CEO of Zenit, a ”radical wellness” company whose philosophy is that everything we do must advance the wellness of all our stakeholders.Highlights include:How journaling can be an extremely powerful mental health toolLeaning into tradeoffs and why this is so important in cultivating wellnessThe importance of coming back to pride and joy
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