RCSD highlights importance of mental health resources: ‘We know it’s not easy’


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In light of recent events in the City of Rochester, and the unfamiliarity of remote learning, the Rochester City School District is continuing to provide updated mental health resources for students and families.

RCSD Deputy Superintendent Melody Martinez-Davis said psychologists, counselors, social workers and nurses are all part of a mental health task force, that is ‘willing, ready, and able’ to be there for students and families at all times. “We know it’s not easy, we know it has not been easy for our families,” said Martinez-Davis.

“We have re-imagined a student support website to meet students needs … you will find information on trauma, illness, grief,” she said. One of the online resources includes lesson plans and activities from Roc Restorative, a group of trained staff deployed in schools to teach and converse with children about recent events, and topics like policing. “To work with students on social, emotional learning and support, work with them with regards to antiracism and social injustices,” said Martinez-Davis.

She said there is also a social and emotional hotline for families and students to use as well, that partners with The Center for Youth, and is a 24-hour service. There are also counselors recruited to R-centers, which are designated spaces for RCSD students to do their online work, have peer support and meals.

UR Medicine Mental Health Counselor Aliyah Patterson said a student dealing with grief or trauma may display signs of withdrawing, not engaging in school, or isolating from friends and family. She said you can offer support by showing them it’s okay to feel emotions.

“Having open discussion, modeling vulnerability and sharing how its affecting them, and showing kids it’s okay to be upset about this stuff, it’s okay to be vulnerable,” said Patterson. She said if remote learning is contributing to feelings of isolation or sadness, there are some ways you can help with that, like avoid staring the screen for too long, and find creative ways to stay connected to peers.

“Getting up, walking around, taking a stretch – little things like that to break up the screen time,” she said. Patterson said tools like Facetime, phone, text, video games are all ways to still get social interaction with remote learning.

Patterson also emphasized how routine and structure in the student’s day helps keep them focused and at more ease. “Make sure they’re getting up with enough time to eat, get dressed and ready not just rolling out of bed, sitting at a table, having a designated workspace,” she said.

She said for teachers – if there is a point in the class to do a social and emotional check in with the students, that can be helpful to give a student support they need through open conversation and listening.

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