Schools and families managing stress during uncertain times: SchoolTV - Education Matters Magazine
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Schools and families managing stress during uncertain times: SchoolTV

Due to the pandemic, the world we now live in is a very different place. Our connectivity to the digital world means that we are constantly being reminded of the challenges we face via numerous media channels, exposing us to a barrage of messages that can leave us feeling overwhelmed.

As a result, many children and their parents are reporting higher levels of stress and anxiety. The wellbeing of all students remains a key priority, with SchoolTV continuing to help schools with supporting parents to raise happy, resilient young people through these challenging times.

The blueprint for parenting and supporting young people is no longer fit for purpose in raising kids as citizens of tomorrow. Unfortunately, our brains have not evolved fast enough to adapt to this digital landscape. The combination of constant access to information and having little control over the situations presented, can be stressful and overwhelming not only for educators, parents and carers, but children alike. If left untreated or unmanaged, constant stress and anxiety can lead to a number of behavioural issues or health consequences.

Founder and Director of SchoolTV, James Wilson tells Education Matters that the SchoolTV online resource was developed in partnership with child and adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, to address key issues relating to youth wellbeing.

“Caring for the mental health and wellbeing of our children, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical. We know that proper support can improve long-term outcomes and can help children achieve their full potential” says Wilson

The recent launch of the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy shines a light on key focus areas such as family-community and educational settings which form part of the important protective factors that support mental health and wellbeing for young people.

SchoolTV shares the view that greater levels of support must be deployed urgently to manage the rapidly escalating youth mental health and wellbeing issues being experienced across all communities.

“Our young people are paying a heavy emotional and developmental price as COVID perseveres. Emergency interventions to protect them have skyrocketed over the past 12 months. Specialists and youth psychologists are in high demand. Wait times are already up to one year, or longer, for parents in regional areas seeking help,” Wilson says.

Over 600 schools across the country now have access to this comprehensive digital wellbeing resource, created to support parents and distributed through their trusted school communities. This online platform provides parents with relevant, fact-based information and practical strategies that stimulate discussion, understanding and action across all dimensions of wellbeing.

SchoolTV provides critical support for parents at a time where many students and families feel disconnected from the routine and security that going to school provides.

“Whilst there is an abundance of information available, it’s often fragmented and confusing for busy parents and school staff looking for easy-to-understand guidance and practical strategies,” Wilson says.

“SchoolTV removes the confusion to present single source content to school communities. The platform brings together the best information on mental health and wellbeing that is easily accessible for parents and empowering for school staff.”

As a parent, Wilson found that the sheer volume of information available was overwhelming.

“We noticed an alarming gap in the market. Being a parent today is a real challenge and if you are not informed around how to have these important conversations with your children, it creates a real disconnect” he says.

Wilson says SchoolTV, via the reporting analytics functionality delivered with the platform, can provide a snapshot of a school community’s state of wellbeing as well as engagement statistics relating to the content.

Since its inception over five years ago, Wilson says the SchoolTV platform has evolved based on feedback from schools and their communities, with the organisation producing ten editions or special reports every year to ensure the platform is as relevant as possible through the various cycles of the school year.

“Today, SchoolTV is now reaching over 1 million parents every month and we know many more could benefit from access to the SchoolTV platform”.

SchoolTV National Partnerships Manager Liz Lang says, “The importance and influence of ‘good parenting’ is greater than ever. The modern-day parent needs support, and schools play a major role in providing them with the accessible and empowering information they need.”

SchoolTV gives schools an opportunity for regular communication with families and unites their community with the common goal of better wellbeing for all students.

“Parents are the ‘first educators’. When schools and families effectively partner across the main contexts of wellbeing, there tends to be outstanding impacts on a child’s health, happiness and resilience.”

Lang says SchoolTV does two things – provides resources through new editions and its ever growing archive and the dynamic ability to respond to immediate areas of concern with special reports.

Special reports are ‘here and now’ releases for schools, developed to respond to current day events such as bushfires, terrorism or COVID. A special report is designed to support parents by outlining practical strategies they can use to open a constructive, calm conversation about the event and reassure their child.

“These reports aim to take the heat out of what can be sensationalised topics in the media and are designed to ensure children are receiving consistent messages from parents and school staff – for example, making sure children aren’t receiving a message of racism at home and one of inclusion at school,” Lang says.

“Considering the current environment and the digital world we now live in, our most recent Special Report is about managing overwhelm in the age of information overload. We are constantly receiving a barrage of messages from various media platforms which can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. This report offers a number of strategies for educators and parents to help children manage these overwhelming feelings.”

With the mental health and wellbeing of all students proving to be extremely important during these times of stress and uncertainty, a wider rollout of a supportive resource such as SchoolTV would help to improve wellbeing, and in turn positively impact academic performance, making it an integral part of every educational experience.

With an aim to become a foundation in the near future, Wilson says SchoolTV has its sights set on the international market following success in New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“At SchoolTV we know that the bottom line is that every school is different in how they treat wellbeing,” he says. “By having access to this content, the school is able to customise the resources, identify which issues resonate within their community and help strengthen the partnership between parents, students and schools.”

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