Mental Health Resources
Newmark Counseling Department
The Newmark Counseling Department provides a variety of updated resources to help you cope with the many feelings we are experiencing as we navigate the school year.
Focus on Social and Communication Skills
The holidays present opportunities for our students to continue their social and emotional development either through practicing social and communication skills at gatherings or using coping strategies to manage the stress that sometimes comes along with the holidays.
The celebrations that occur during the holidays, while enjoyable for many, can be stressful or difficult for those who struggle with social skills. Some things that families can do to prepare their children for these events are:
- Practice social greetings ahead of time: Hellos and goodbyes with eye contact and specific words such as, “Hi Aunt Sally, Happy Holidays!” and "Goodbye Grandma, thank you for having me.”
- Rehearse opening gifts: Giving children the words for when they don’t like a gift they received or are surprised by a gift. Gratitude in any scenario is the key skill to use.
- Explain the plans and expectations before the event: Let your child know where the event is, who will be there, why you have chosen to attend, what the attendees will be doing (i.e. chatting, eating, playing games, watching football…), what kinds of food may be served and the times you will arrive and depart.
- Identify conversation ideas: Help your child think of some topics they can talk about with the adults and other children.
- Above all, patience and praise go a long way in reinforcing your child’s attempts to engage in a socially expected manner during the holidays.
Since the holidays can sometimes be stressful for everyone, here is an article from The Mayo Clinic with tips for emotionally coping.
Support For School Tragedies
As a school community, we are saddened by the tragedy that occurred at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Our hearts and condolences are with the students, families, educators, first responders and members of the Uvalde community.
Our counseling team and teachers vigilantly monitored all of your children for reactions, questions and concerns about tragic school events. We have not discussed the events with your child, however our counseling team is available and prepared to do so should you and your child feel they would like to address the situation. Our students have completed school successfully with minimal support needed in connection with the events in Texas.
The counselors, as always, remain available to support your children should any needs arise during this sad and challenging time. Please reach out to us if you have any questions or if there is any way we can help you and your family. Additionally, here are some resources for mental health needs of youth in NJ:
New Jersey Mental Health Cares Line
M - F 8AM - 8PM
2nd Floor Youth Helpline
24/7 helpline for NJ Youth
The IEP Process
As we move through the 3rd marking period, each of our students are working hard to attain their annual goals. Their academic, social and emotional and related services goals are specified in the Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The IEP is a legal requirement for every child receiving special education and related services. The IEP is an individualized and fair plan used to outline the steps, goals and personalized learning needs for your child so they may reach grow and develop into independent, successful adults.
The IEP process can be lengthy and complicated, and as parents of a child who has an IEP, you are surely aware of the "ins and outs". Even though you have been through the process, the IEP continues as long as your child receives special education services so our counseling team would like to provide some information to manage this ongoing piece of your child’s education:
- The IEP requires accountability and consistent follow up by you, as the parent.
- A review is conducted annually and your child is eligible for reevaluation every three years.
- The evaluations completed through the IEP process are full of detailed, valuable information but the data is only useful if it is understood.
Focus on the true meaning of the holidays
The holiday season is here and we would like to provide you with some tips to manage any anxiety, depression or other mental health issues that may arise at this time of year. Within the context of the flurry of activity, family time and travel (perhaps for the first time in a couple of years), people often experience some degree of holiday-related stress. Prioritizing one’s mental health is paramount to coping with this stress.
- Practice gratitude – Three Good Things Exercise
- Try to remain flexible about new traditions or limitations resulting from COVID and keep an open mind and perspective about anxiety and worries of others
- Kindness is infectious
- Mindfulness keeps us grounded in the moment - Guided Mindfulness Exercise
- Track moods to be aware and proactive about triggers
- Stay hydrated, eat nutritiously as much as possible (even when indulging a bit on holiday treats), exercise and practice sleep hygiene
- Stay active and have fun! - 25 Free Family Holiday Activities
Reducing Screen Time
A new school year is an opportunity for a fresh start and a wonderful time to set goals. All of our students begin the year in counseling identifying goals they would like to achieve. The Counseling Team also gathers information from our teachers and parents for input into these goals. Each year, reducing screen time is a common issue that teachers and parents identify. However, one consequence of the COVID pandemic is the increase in screen time across the board – children, teens and adults. This article from TODAY Parents talks about preparing children and teens to return onsite to school with less screen time. The article points out that the reduction of time spent on technology is a gradual goal rather than a cold-turkey event.
For more information on the pros and cons of technology, please VIEW this Technology and Mental Health video from Newmark’s own school psychologists, Adam Goldberg, Ed.M. and Ashlie E. Jernigan, MS, NCSP.
Technology and Mental Health
Coping with COVID-19's Impact
Dealing with COVID-19 is like running a marathon rather than a sprint. When framed that way, it makes sense to use the coping strategies of a long-distance runner: pace yourself; remember that, even if you can’t see the finish line, trust it is there; adjust your plan if necessary; focus on what we can control; its ok to slow down and walk – but keep going; drink your water, and express gratitude to your cheer team that help along the way.
If you or anyone you know needs support during this time, the Mental Health Association in NJ runs a variety of online support groups. For more information about these Remote Support Groups, visit the MHANJ.org website.
Mental Health Resources: Apps & Books
In this age of technology, quality mental health resources are easily available via apps on our phones. A variety of apps exist, with some fantastic ones being free. These apps can support and assist with topics such as mindfulness, depression, anxiety and stress relief. Check out The 8 Best Mental Health Apps of 2021 from the website verywellmind.com (a fantastic resource as well!). Also check out this article from the same website that lists The 10 Best Mental Health Books. My personal favorite is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, written by the therapist Lori Gottlieb. It is funny, touching and quite insightful about the difficulties, but ultimate benefits, of sticking with therapy.
Self-care is becoming a popular topic in the media – for good reason. As parents, we can easily get caught up in the daily grind and de-prioritize our own needs. True self-care is an intentional decision to not only maintain our own health and wellness, but to make mindful changes in recurring thoughts and behaviors that have a negative impact on our welfare.
Aditi Kulkarni, a therapist, reminds us that some myths about self-care exist: self-care is an indulgence, it is selfish, it is a one-time occurrence, and it is time-consuming. Believing these myths present an obstacle to creating a sustainable health care plan. Ms. Kulkarni suggests starting small, experimenting and creating an intentional practice when starting a self-care plan. Read Ms. Kulkarni's blog for a more in-depth discussion. For some tips about self-care activities one can do at their desk while working, check out this article from INC. magazine: 4 Self-Care Practices You Can Do at Your Desk.
How are you coping with the unique stress of being a parent during Covid-19? The American Psychological Association conducted a survey at the end of May 2020 and found while 69% of parents were looking forward to the school year being over, 60% said they were struggling to keep their children busy, and 60% said they “have no idea how they are going to keep their child occupied all summer.”
COVID-19 seems to present answers and questions simultaneously: School will open, but what will it look like? Pools and playgrounds will be open, but how does one social distance in a pool? The school year is over, but now what do we do to keep busy?
Staying grounded in the present moment is the key to managing unknowns, questions and an ever-changing new normal. Please view this guided mindfulness meditation to use as a tool at home to ease stress and tension.
Structure continues to be crucial, but summertime structure allows for flexibility, rest and relaxation. Nina Essel, a therapist and parent coach, suggests breaking the day into three categories: Nonnegotiables (i.e. shower and brush teeth each day); things you want to see happen (i.e. spend at least an hour a day outside); and things you would like to see happen (i.e. kids unload the dishwasher each day). Having your child involved in the process of identifying the activities is helpful and adds to the likelihood that the activity list will be more successful.
As we settle in to this season, remaining focused on what we can control helps to maintain our emotional wellness and positive outlook. For example, we can’t control the cold weather, but we can decide to embrace cozy blankets, hot chocolate, soothing candles and warm pjs! This infographic gives us a visual reminder of what we can control and read about The Four Things You Can Control Starting Today by Kendra Harvey.
Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. We are still dealing with the many unknowns and feelings about finding our “new normal” during COVID-19. Additionally, many of us watched the news over the past week and felt a range of big emotions. Maintaining our resilience in the face of what sometimes feels like unrelenting stress is an important way to keep ourselves healthy. Here are 20 Ways To Build Resilience At Home.
One way to recharge is to be mindful about our perspective. When thinking about the pandemic and the effects of staying at home, our perspective guides our response. Staying mindful helps us remain aware of our perspective, thoughts and responses. In this article, 4 Steps to More Inner Peace During a Pandemic, John J. Murphy from Mindful Leader offers 4 steps to improving our ability to respond to stressful situations: Let Be, Let Go, Let See and Let Flow.
Now that we are knee-deep in the pandemic and remote learning, we are getting used to experiencing a range of emotional reactions and levels of stress. However, some of us may be nearing burnout.
It is important to give ourselves permission to experience whatever it is we are feeling. Elisha, Goldstein, Ph.D. talks about “grief bombs.” Goldstein says, “You may not even recognize them at first…You're feeling okay for a few days, and then all of sudden you're having an especially hard day - a bout of anxiety hits or it feels like nothing's going right. You may find yourself weepy, overwhelmed, irritable, anxious or unable to focus.” In remote counseling, students have described feeling this way and it is important as adults we understand this to be true for us as well.
When we realize what it is we are feeling (burnout, grief, anxiety…), we can take steps to provide ourselves with extra care, love and opportunities to refill our emotional cups.
988 - New Mental Health Crisis Hotline
Everyone deserves access to the support they need, when they need it – and that includes mental health support.
Launched this summer, anyone facing a mental health crisis can call 988 and get connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (also called the Lifeline). The line will be staffed with trained crisis counselors who know what callers are going through and know what local resources might make a difference. The phone line is staffed 24/7, and is free and confidential. Starting in July, you can just dial 988. It is a direct connection to compassionate, accessible support.
It’s never too early – or too late – to seek help.
It’s never too early – or too late – to seek help.
Mental Health Support
Additionally, here are some important resources for anyone who is struggling with their mental health:
- Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
1-800-273-TALK ** Effective 7/16/22 - Call 988
- 2nd Floor Hotline:
- NJ Mental Health Cares:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
Coping with Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks - SAMHSA.gov
Taking Time for Gratitude
One proven way that resilient people deal with difficult situations is by practicing gratitude. Here is a sample Gratitude Letter that everyone in your family can use to focus on who and what we are grateful for during this uncertain time. Take the opportunity to let that person know! Gratitude Letter
Mental Health Tip
One way of managing our own fears and anxieties about the Coronavirus Pandemic is to focus our energy on helping others in need. The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has many ideas and activities to keep us focused on how to remain calm and kind in the face of this crisis. One example, using these Hello-Help Cards with neighbors or friends who may be in need of assistance (of course while practicing social distance and other safety measures). Hint: This is a great way to earn a PIN through our Community Connections PIN Program