As the final hours of in-person learning ticked down last week, two of Boulder Valley School District’s mental health advocates were making a mad dash, trying to visit as many students and staff members as they could.
Jamie Smalley made it a point to stop by Nederland, while Katie McGee visited Gold Hill. Both knew that the elementary schools in the mountain towns and across the school district would be empty beginning this week, as schools returned to Phase 1 - Home Learning, due to the increase in cases in BVSD and the related impacts of quarantining on our schools.
“I just wanted to make sure that staff and students know we will still be thinking about them and present – just in a different way – as we depart into the next phase of unknown,” said McGee.
“We are not leaving them. They still have a lifeboat. We don’t want anyone feeling isolated and alone as we transition.”
McGee says that they, as well as school counselors, psychologists and social workers are just a phone call or email away to a child, parent or educator who is struggling.
“People need to know that it is absolutely okay to ask for help. We need to reduce the stigma around mental health,,” McGee said. “It is courageous to ask for help. These are times when it is if you need help, it is when you will need help and who you are going to reach out to.”
“We tell parents and students, ‘if you are struggling – call me. I’ll talk it through with you. I’ll help you figure it out. I’ll listen to you. I will be your person right now,’” added Smalley.
In a crisis situation? McGee and Smalley say that Colorado Crisis Services is available to anyone in BVSD 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text “TALK” to 38255 with free, confidential support.
While both have been worried about the mental health of members of our school communities since the pandemic started, they are especially concerned now, knowing that the dark, winter months are typically a time when depression and suicide increase.
“We know suicide rates, ideation and substance use will increase,” McGee said frankly.
MORE INFORMATION: Suicide Risk Factors and Resources
They are now working to provide everyone, including students, parents and BVSD staff members with the tools needed to navigate the months ahead.
“We are sharing with people that this time is hard and it is going to be hard. We can’t take the hard away, but we can say that you don’t have to go through the hard alone,” McGee said
“We are listening ears, so they can talk through what is going on,” Smalley added. “Reach out to us, whenever you need to.”
Help is Here
If you don’t know where to start, reach out to your teacher or school administrator and they can connect you with your school counselor, psychologist or social worker. Additionally, you can call our Family Help Line at 720-770-0102. A bilingual member of our Equity & Partnerships team will return your call promptly and help connect you to the right resources within the district.
Continuing Series: December - Tools that students, parents and educators can use during these difficult times