Madison, Wisconsin - Many students across Wisconsin have already resumed in-person learning or will do so later this month, while many others have chosen to continue their education in a virtual environment.
Regardless of the learning model that families choose, mental health experts say it's completely natural for parents and students alike to experience strong and potentially overwhelming emotions while navigating this transition.
That's why UW Health is teaming up with former Badger all-American and NFL football player Chris Borland to remind children and adults that taking care of their mental health is one of the most important things they can do during this time.
"The pandemic has forced us all to endure unprecedented disruptions to nearly every aspect of our lives, be it social, educational or professional, so it's not uncommon or unnatural for us to be experiencing some mental health challenges," says Borland, who is now a teacher with the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.
"Realizing that you are not alone in this struggle is an important first step toward improving your emotional well-being, and being proactive about asking for help if you need it is not only one of the most important things you can do it is also one of the most courageous."
On Wednesday, April 14, Borland will join UW Health psychologist Stephanie Steinman for a Facebook Live event to discuss mental health challenges and answer questions from viewers. The public can watch or participate in the Facebook Live on the UW Health Facebook page, beginning at 7pm. A recording of the event will also be available.
Steinman, who specializes in adolescent mental health and mindfulness, says that while some sadness, anxiety, and irritability are understandable during difficult times, parents and kids should look for the following signs that suggest professional help could be beneficial or necessary:
Changes in sleeping and/or appetite that persist for more than two weeks
No longer finding enjoyment or interest in activities
If a child makes any statements about wanting to hurt themselves, seek help immediately
Prolonged sadness, anxiety and irritability is not normal and seeking help earlier can be extremely beneficial
There are numerous resources available to help families navigate any mental health challenges they might be facing, now or in the future:
Meditation apps for families and individuals
Family resources for mental health support and services
Parent Help Line: Online or call 1-855-4A PARENT