Duchesne Students Paying More Attention to Mental Health

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart - Omaha
Health class discussions now focus on how to maintain or improve mental wellbeing and offer support to loved ones who are impacted by the situation.
OMAHA – Teachers and counselors continue to not only lead coursework but also ensure students are taking care of their bodies and minds while Duchesne Academy remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physical education teachers are working with students to craft at-home workouts and develop ways for them to track their progress. Exercising alone can be tedious, which is why Duchesne leaders are also organizing new ways for students to participate in physical activities using Zoom and other software typically used for classroom lessons.
Health classes are evolving, too. Students are now learning about health within the context of COVID-19. Class discussions now focus on how to maintain or improve mental wellbeing and offer support to loved ones who are impacted by the situation.
“I’ve noticed the girls talking about taking care of their mental health more, and they offer a lot of ideas to each other which is fantastic,” said Sophomore Health Teacher Krissy Walsh, who is also a guidance counselor.
Students are discussing practical steps to avoid burnout and conflict:

• Take a “brain break”
• Break up iPad use and screen time
• Take time to exercise outside
• Productive communication with family

Parents set the tone for the house when it comes to healthy environments, Walsh says. They can take steps to ensure a positive environment:

• Reassure kids they are loved
• Express confidence they will survive the pandemic together
• Monitor their own mental health
• Model “calmness”
As was the case before the pandemic reached Omaha, parents may contact the Duchesne Counseling Department for support with helping their child succeed with online learning.
“We miss the normal interaction with parents and want to respect that they are probably overloaded with emails and helping their children navigate school online,” Walsh said.
The pandemic has also presented an opportunity to reinforce a pre-closure lesson about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarette use. Before spring break, students learned about how to resist peer pressure to vape and why tobacco products are unhealthy, now the lessons are even more important, Walsh said.
“It is especially relevant because research shows that vaping makes the lungs more vulnerable to complications from COVID19. We had a really thoughtful discussion,” she said.
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.