School psychologists help students get back on track

Students returning to school are vulnerable to ‘transition anxiety’ and other mental health pressures due to COVID-19.

But, according to the Australian Psychological Society (APS), the nation’s school psychologists and counsellors are helping young Australians adjust to the challenge.

“Many schools and school psychologists are doing an amazing job in creating welcoming environments for returning students,” APS President Ros Knight said.

“But COVID-19 is still causing a great deal of ‘transition’ and ‘future’ anxiety within school communities.

“Young people still have to contend with new rules and restrictions due to the virus. Social distancing, different approaches to learning, restricted parent access, and concerns about the health of family and friends can all affect a student’s functioning at school.”

Ms Knight said faced with these challenges, schools were reprioritising resources to support teachers, students and families to manage the transition and help the most vulnerable children to adjust and catch-up.

She said school psychologists were working closely with school executive and leadership teams as the school’s mental health experts.

She said schools appeared to be entering a ‘new era of teacher, student and parent wellbeing, where being well, both physically and psychologically, are seen as absolutely essential for successful learning, teaching and achievement.

“It’s crucial that for us to get education back on track in Australia, we support students’ emotional, social and behavioural wellbeing equally to their physical health,” Ms Knight said.

Ms Knight said the APS expected to see a massive jump in the number of face-to-face and telehealth (phone, video) counselling sessions conducted by school psychologists and counsellors over the coming months.

The APS has a launched a national survey this week to determine how schools and school psychologists are coping with the COVID-19 crisis. The results will be released later this week.

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