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Each week I interview guests who delve into a myriad of substance abuse, mental health and social justice concerns. Hear some provocative discussions that will hopefully provide an impetus for change and better understanding.

Oct 29, 2021

Social and Emotional Development

The Covid-19 Crisis has impacted students in many ways – one of the most salient being Mental Health. In addition to placing kids under stress and distancing them from supports, Covid has also led to situations that have delayed emotional maturation. In short, isolation appears to have negatively influenced how young people handle social interactions and challenges.

I have coined a pop diagnosis called Interrupted Community Engagement Disorder (I.C.E.D.) which attempts to detail how 18-20 months of stress, loss and isolation have affected child/adolescent development. While not an official malady I.C.E.D. is something many students, counselors and educators have seen and/or experienced.

A concern of mine, which has been exacerbated by the Covid situation, centers around young people’s diminished capacity to handle everyday stressors. Some of the reasons for this might be excessive computer time, separation from peers, academic pressure and a distorted view that says “you can’t make mistakes”. We need to enter into good and healthy discussions (preferably in person) which tells students it’s OK to risk a few errors on the way to greater understanding.

The recent release of the state’s RICAS scores indicates a significant drop in student’s Math and English skills mastery. Many reasons will be offered – distance learning, blended models, school closings, etc., etc. While these should all be factored in, so must social and emotional competencies. Kids who are unprepared in terms of normal maturation are most likely finding transitioning to a higher degree of school expectations somewhat challenging. I am worried that we will begin to ‘pile it’ on regarding schoolwork in an effort to catch up. The new fad seems to be addressing Learning Loss by adding more work. This could have negative effects.