Back to School 2020: A guide to managing stress for parents
August 26, 2020 – Defence Stories
The pandemic has created additional stress sending kids back to school.
While the prospect of returning to school is usually exciting for many children - and even their parents! - this year has been particularly stressful. Due to COVID- 19, many Defence Team members’ summer vacations looked different this year, and now sending the kids back to school is on the minds of parents. The pandemic has created additional stress sending kids back to school, making it necessary for parents to choose an educational path that they feel will be the safest for their families.
Making the decision to send your children back to school, either physically or virtually, has likely brought mixed emotions. It is normal to be feeling anxious and/or frightened with so much still unknown, especially around our children starting another school year. Defence Team Members are facing new challenges constantly, whether it be, juggling work, family, and other duties. It is okay to feel unsure and to not have all the answers.
Here are some tips to help manage fears and anxiety about sending your kids back to school:
- Find calm. Make your mental health a priority during this time and focus on the present moment. The regular practice of mindfulness can be a tool to help you remain grounded and calm. Practicing breathing exercises may help you reduce stress and anxiety. Try out the Road to Mental Readiness app, which has a ‘breathing’ exercise technique to help you practice conscious breathing.
- Learn to navigate through change. We are living in a world that is more Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous (VUCA). Developing a flexible and agile mindset is critical during these turbulent times. Why not take a course from the Canada School of the Public Service (CSPS) on Navigating through Change to help you cope during these difficult times.
- Build and strengthen your resilience. Take this time as an opportunity to build your resilience. First, do a check-in on your mental health. Next, explore LifeSpeak, a digital wellness platform available to all Defence Team members that has a plethora of resources on resilience. The CSPS also offers a course on this topic.
- Seek out reputable and trustworthy sources of information. While it is easy for many of us to get caught up in the news and social media frenzy over back to school during the pandemic, make sure you are seeking out your local provincial and territorial resources and government of Canada websites for up-to-date information.
- Practice mental health hygiene. While it is important to practice and maintain proper physical hygiene for public safety, it is just as important to maintain your mental health hygiene. Limit your exposure to stress-inducing news and situations.
If you need support to help you cope during this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Defence Team members can get help through:
- The Health Canada - Employee Assistance Services by calling 1-800-268-7708 (24/7/365) | 1-800-567-5803 (TTY - for people with a hearing impairment).
- Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and their families can contact the Canadian Forces Member Assistance Program at 1-800-268-7708 | 1-800-567-5803 (TTY).
- Talk to a Peer
- Peer Support for civilians. There are DND employees who have volunteered to provide confidential active-listening skills and resources to those in need and can be contacted during regular working hours. The service is also available to family members. Call HR Connect at 1-833-747-6363 to be connected with a readily available colleague from 0800-1600 hours Mon-Fri or contact DND’s EAP Corporate Office. You will be contacted within 24 hours.
Defence Team Members
- Defence Team COVID-19 Health and Wellness Page Resources
- Defence Team members have access to a variety of resources to help them cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Defence Team members can access LifeSpeak, a digital platform with a library of health and wellness resources. The LifeSpeak app can also be downloaded for on-the-go access (Google Play and Apple App Store).
- When logging into the Web/App, for:
- client name: canada
- client password: canada
- Clients must then:
- scroll down to accept terms and conditions
- Then select Canadian Armed Forces or Department of National Defence - Civilian and input corporate ID: canada.
- Then click Access through group account
There are a range of resources available to CAF member parents struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- The Family Information Line (FIL)
- The FIL is a toll-free, bilingual telephone service for families of Canadian military personnel intended to provide timely and accurate information as well as reassurance, support and referrals to resources as needed. FIL counsellors are available to handle calls in confidence 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To speak with a FIL counsellor, call 1-800-866-4546 (toll-free in North America) or 1-613-995-5234 (collect calls accepted).
- Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs)
- MFRCs provide information on subjects of interest to military families, including mental health. They can also provide psychological support through counselling and refer you to complementary programs in the larger local community.
- Crisis Texting Service for Kids of CAF Families
- Children, youth and young adults from military families can access free mental health and wellbeing support by texting the keyword CAFKIDS at 686868 for service in English. For service in French, text the keyword JEUNESFAC at 686868.
Remember you are not alone! We are in this together.
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