Home Education pandemic brings mental health issues to the forefront

pandemic brings mental health issues to the forefront

pandemic brings mental health issues to the forefront

They say laughter is the best medicine. Jessica Holmes, a longtime member of the Royal Canadian Air Farce comedy troupe, kicked off the conference by sharing her own mental health concerns and ideas on how to stay resilient. She told anecdotes that were alternately hilarious and serious.

After giving birth to two children, Holmes found that she was so depressed that she could not get out of bed. She joked that her husband’s response was, “You relax and rest. And come down in five minutes and make us breakfast. “

The comedian said that depression and burnout can be overcome over time. Exercise is one of the keys to maintaining mental health, she argued. “I would put on gym equipment and vow to go to the gym and enjoy the membership I bought 14 years ago. Then you just sit and watch TV in the gym.

The conference brought together more than 300 international educators from school districts across the country. Speaker after speaker stressed that the sector has been hit hard since the start of the pandemic in early 2020.

“I wanted to say that these were difficult years, but apparently it has already been said,” joked Randall Martin, executive director of the British Columbia Council for International Education.

“We deprive incoming students of their cultural and family support”

He waved a bag from a conference of the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education, which was scheduled to take place in Vancouver in March but was moved online due to the pandemic. “I have 3,000 of these bags to give away,” he said.

Several sessions addressed the mental health of students, including identifying problems, providing support, and reducing stigma. This is a big concern. Samantha Morno of Student VIP Insurance says a survey of international students in Canada found that six out of 10 students experience well-being problems. About 30% suffer from clinical or major depressive disorder. The vast majority of international students feel overwhelmed at some point during their studies.

Daniel Toe, Surrey’s district school principal, discussed eating disorders, noting that these are mental health issues, not physical ones. Its goal is to enable international educators to pinpoint when students are experiencing difficulties and may need professional help.

“It’s important to know your students,” he argued. He encouraged educators to understand the cultural background of each student in relation to food intake and treat them as individuals. Schools should then provide support and turn to mental health experts if necessary.

One of the barriers to helping students with mental health problems is that there is stigma in many countries and cultures. Sometimes parents send a student to Canada, hoping that “starting over” will help them overcome the illness. However, students may be lonely and lack support when they first arrive.

“We are depriving incoming students of their culture and family support and placing them in a new environment,” said Mercedes Hajduk of Campbell River Schools International. “We provide an enabling environment for them, but it’s difficult.”

Gaiduk noted the importance of educating host families so that they notice and raise mental health concerns. “They are at the forefront with students and the first to notice changes in behavior.”

She stressed that words such as “anxiety” and “depression” should not be used with students. This can lead to their departure and increase the stigma regarding mental health. Instead, international educators may ask, “Have you been feeling sad lately?”

“We are very pleased that the pandemic has brought this issue to the fore.”

Several school districts are actively working to offer more services. For example, the Suke County School held a session to explain that she had hired a health and health coordinator to support international students. One of the key goals is to reduce stigma.

Michael Sabo, an ambulance doctor and medical director of Study Insured, noted that physical symptoms such as abdominal pain, headaches and palpitations can actually be signs of mental illness and need to be treated accordingly.

The fact that many people are fighting during a pandemic has raised awareness. “We are very pleased that the pandemic has brought the issue to the forefront,” Sabo said. “Mental health is health.”

International educators also faced difficulties due to social isolation during Covid. The conference organizers encouraged participants to soothe their worries and enjoy the beauty of Whistler’s nature by going for a walk in the woods or jogging around the local lakes.

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