Counselors take measures to curb anxiety amid COVID-19

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Emily Reish

Junior Emily Reish and counselor Jeff Strowe meet for a virtual counseling session. Administrators and counselors teamed up to check on students, using home visits, text messages to parents, chromebook drop-off and encouraging videos. "For everyone during this distressing time, if you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to us or a trusted adult so that you can get the help you need," counselor Sandy Hicks said. "Please take a little time each day to take care of yourself , take walks, reflect, journal whatever it is that helps you! "

Isabella Abraham, Feature/Copy Editor

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During this unprecedented pandemic and e-learning situation, counselors have taken steps to assist students with mental health concerns.

From setting up supportive counseling Google Classrooms for each grade to providing one-on-one video sessions for individuals, counselors continue to work to maintain channels of communication with students.

“Counselors are utilizing a few services to help students,” counselor Bobby Storey said. “Our primary manner of assistance is by being available for a video chat, which can be accessed either via Dr. (John) Burdett’s Principal’s Newsletter, or by emailing your counselor directly and receiving the link to request an appointment. We are still receiving many check-in emails from students and families, and we respond as soon as we can, depending on volume. Otherwise, we still have ways to outsource counseling resources to local counselors as we have done before.”

Administrators and counselors teamed up to check on students, using home visits, text messages to parents, Chromebook drop-off and co-produced videos.

Challenge yourself to let someone know you’re having a hard time. It doesn’t make you weak or needing pity. It just means you’re human, and that’s perfectly OK!”

— Counselor Bobby Storey

“The counselors are actually doing a lot of things to try to help students relieve stress,” counselor Sandy Hicks said. “Some of those are sending tips to our students that we know this might really be a tough time for them. We are reaching out to students through email and Google Hangouts and trying to meet the needs with school, social and emotional, and even help connect students to the right resources that we might not be able to provide.”

The counselors emphasize honesty and planning when offering advice to students who may be overwhelmed by their e-learning course load. Practical tips include prioritizing due dates, using a planner and maintaining a routine.

“Start by talking with their parents if that is a helpful outlet, to try to create some sort of schedule to maintain a semblance of normalcy,” Storey said. “If that isn’t an option, certainly reaching out to the teacher to let them know about having a tough time, and including the counselor and/or the assistant principal,  so we can be supports and provide some different ways to look at an issue. Having worked in several districts now, I am always amazed at the extra mile PHS folks go for others.”

Even if students fall behind or fail to meet their goals, counselors assure students that it is not the end of the road for them.

“Be patient with yourself,” Storey said. “While there aren’t other students in a physical classroom to make you feel like you should be working harder, you’re really up against yourself in a one-on-one match. Try things out like the Pomodoro method to help yourself set limits and also reward your behaviors. But ultimately, challenge yourself to let someone know you’re having a hard time. It doesn’t make you weak or needing pity. It just means you’re human, and that’s perfectly OK!”

This is just a bump in the road that will never be forgotten, but will teach you so much about life, resilience and overcoming obstacles”

— Counselor Sandy Hicks

Counselor Cezanne Rowland notes the importance of self-care and reaching out to loved ones for suffering teens.

“Just be aware of how you are feeling,” Rowland said. “Do things that make you happy. Check-in with others that you know might struggle during this time of isolation and be there for them the best you can in the circumstances. Use coping skills to help you manage your feelings if they are overwhelming. Talk to a trusted adult if you are struggling and need help.”

To the class of 2020, the counselors extend their sympathies and assure seniors they will work to make this year as memorable and as positive as possible.

“You guys are very special kids and have so much ahead of you,” Hicks said. “This is just a bump in the road that will never be forgotten, but will teach you so much about life, resilience and overcoming obstacles. I have a senior, and he is my first to graduate. So, as a family, we are working through this together. Don’t give up, the district is working behind the scenes to make things special for the last class to graduate with one high school in Prosper.”

Rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and psychological distress among young adults have increased in recent years, but counselors maintain that it is a battle students won’t have to fight alone.

“Keep your head up,” Rowland said. “We know this is a difficult time, and is not what you planned, but you have worked so hard to get where you are! Our current situation does define what you will do with your life, who you will become, or what you are capable of doing. You will prevail!”