Dear Parents and Guardians
We hope this finds you well.
The reason for this email is because we have noticed an increase in the number of our students who are worried, stressed and anxious. Given the extraordinary year everyone has had, this is unsurprising and we did anticipate the need for additional support. Nevertheless, our counselling team is seeing a very high number of referrals and the number of students seeking them out has also increased as a consequence of the recent tragic death of a student at Renaissance College.
As you know, we prioritise the wellbeing of everyone in the STC community above all other considerations and reference the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ both within the taught curriculum and across every other aspect of school life. These core messages are reinforced at year assemblies, in newsletter articles, through our signage and activities. Our student Wellbeing Committee is connecting with students through their posters, articles and events. This week they erected a Gratitude Tree on the ground floor. We have already seen many messages of gratitude tied onto the branches and we know this will make recipients feel valued. Our Guidance and Achievement team began delivering the ‘Chilled and Considerate – Managing Uncertainty’ programme a fortnight ago which contains well researched strategies aimed at helping students identify and manage their thoughts and emotions. We have Christmas focussed House activities planned, starting next week, and our annual Christmas Shoe Box collection for Christian Action is underway, as is work by Year 7 with Impact Hong Kong. International research on wellbeing is unequivocal that giving to others boosts happiness and feelings of self-worth.
It can be helpful to know how to recognise signs of emotional changes in others so here are some indicators –
- Feelings of sadness, which can include crying spells for no apparent reason
- Frustration or feelings of anger, even over small matters
- Feeling hopeless or empty
- Irritability or annoyed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in usual activities
- Loss of interest in, or conflict with, family and friends
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Fixation on past failures or exaggerated self-blame or self-criticism
- Extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure and the need for excessive reassurance
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Ongoing sense that life and the future are grim and bleak
It can be difficult to tell the difference between ‘ups and downs’ that are just part of being a teenager and teen anxiety and depression. We encourage you to talk with your teen if you notice any changes in her/his emotions or behaviour and try to determine whether there is a need for additional support.
On Thursday December 3, CoolMinds Hong Kong will be delivering a zoom presentation for parents, starting at 6:00 pm. This is focussed on understanding teenagers and mental health, common mental health situations and their symptoms, how to talk about mental health with your teenagers, self-care tips and where to get help. More details will be sent next week on how to attend this webinar.
We have attached a list of resources which you may find beneficial. Please click here to see them: Mental Health Services in HK Our social workers, Marisa To (email@example.com) and Kenny Chu (firstname.lastname@example.org) continue to meet, via zoom, with parents every month. Please do feel free to contact them about anything related to family matters and your children.
Christine Rowlands Caroline Blyth
Vice Principal School counsellor