Dear Full Service Community School Health Center Family:
We miss you! We hope that this letter finds you and your family well. We are sending you this letter to provide you with resources that might be helpful while we are social distancing and adjusting to our new routines.
First, for everyone, but especially our children, we want to share a short story adapted from child psychologist Ana Gomez:
The Story of the Oyster
“Do you know about the oyster who lives at the bottom of the sea who uses its special powers when something is bothering it until a pearl is formed?
In these difficult days, we can be like the oyster and when something is bothering us, notice our feelings – lonely, sad, angry, frustrated, happy, worried, relaxed, confused, mixed up. Notice the way the feelings we have make our bodies feel.
Draw a picture of our feelings, talk about our feelings and
thoughts. Draw a picture of ourselves. Does our body feel
loose like a noodle or hard like a rock? Does it feel light or
heavy? Where on our bodies do we feel these feelings? What
do the feelings look like? What do they say?
Like the oyster, we have special powers to make what is bothering us into a pearl. When our feelings get too big, too hot or too cold, we can do things to cool them down or warm them up. We can be kind and loving to our feelings. Ignoring our feelings will not make them go away. Do we need a hug or someone to talk to or someone to tell us that things will be ok? We can use the power of breathing to calm our minds, hearts and bodies. We also can sing, hum, dance or jump!
Now imagine that we have a long, special cord that goes from our heart to the hearts of all the people we love. This cord joins us together. We are not alone. We all have special powers and like the oyster, we can create pearls.”
Thank you for reading! We look forward to coming back to school and finding out what pearls you have made and what feelings you identified to help create your pearls. We also want to hear about who you are connecting with by using your long, special cord. On the following pages please find information and links to helpful resources.
The resources included here below are up-to-date as of the post date. Information is changing rapidly and not always correct, so we urge you to rely on information from government websites.
Download the PDF below for your reference:
We know how tough it is to talk to our children about Coronavirus. It all feels so confusing to us, so how can we explain it to them? In this quick video, Dr Michelle Dickinson aka Nanogirl, will teach you and your child all about viruses and how to stay healthy.
Click here to view the video.
During this difficult time, we understand that some of your kids are feeling quite anxious. While we may all feel so out of control with what is going on in the world, we find it is really helpful to give kids the tools to feel centered. We found this wonderful resource from the Stop, Breathe & Think YouTube Channel. Below is their description of the Square Breathing Technique.
In this video, boost your superpowers of calm and focus by breathing as Puffer Fish keeps time. Try playing this mindful game when you are overly excited or are in a meltdown.
It is also helpful to play this game when you feel already feel relaxed to build the muscles of calming down in more stressful situations. This video begins in the ocean with Puffer Fish ready to show you how to play Square Breathing.
To play this mindful game, you’ll sit or stand with your back straight and body relaxed. If you’re standing, let your arms hang by your side. If you’re sitting, rest your hands on your knees. Then, you’ll breathe in time with Puffer Fish as she swims around the sides of a square. As Puffer Fish swims up, you’ll breathe in for a count of four. As Puffer Fish swims across the top of the square, you’ll hold your breath for a count of four. As Puffer Fish swim down the side of the square, you’ll breathe out for a count of four. And as Puffer Fish swims across the bottom of the square, you’ll hold your breath again for a count of four, repeating the cycle a few more times.
Access more meditations on Youtube ➜ https://goo.gl/AbqCp8
Try their free app now ➜ https://goo.gl/7wnzVY
Please be advised that the Full Service Community School Health Center (including Behavioral Health Counseling) will be closed in accordance with Paterson Public Schools closing due to the COVID-19 Virus and will re-open at the time school re-commences. In the meantime, we are working from home and if any of our families need support our team can be reached by calling your Full Service Community School Health Center voice mailbox and the appropriate personnel will return the call. This includes Treatment Coordinators and Behavioral Health Counselors. Please click on “Contact Us” to access contact information.
Please follow our Full Service Community School Health Center Pediatrician at: docrazzak on facebook. Please see his contact information on this site ‘contact us’ for office and telephone contact. Please note, Dr. Razzak is scheduling TELEHEALTH for patients. Follow his protocols to determine need.
We realize that the uncertainty and stressors related to this situation may cause increased levels of fear and anxiety. If you find that you, or anyone in your family is experiencing a mental health emergency please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. In addition, please consider the following resources local to the Paterson Community for your long term mental health:
PerformCare New Jersey: 1-877-652-7624
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with an office in Paterson, PerformCare develops and manages behavioral health solutions for children, adolescents and families.
Circle of Care for Families and Children of Passaic County: 973-942-4588
Woodland Park, Circle of Care provides services for children with emotional and behavioral challenges using a wraparound model so that the child and family may live and thrive in the community.
Family Intervention Services: 973-523-0089
Located at 655 Broadway in Paterson, FIS provides crisis intervention, therapeutic counseling, case management, education and support for families.
St. Joseph’s Health Screening Service: 973-754-2230
This 24-hour hotline number offers emergency psychiatric evaluation screenings and psychiatric referrals.
TIPS FOR MANAGING OUR WORRY AND RESPONDING TO OUR CHILDREN
Our kids already live with heightened worry — pressure to achieve, social comparison, safety in the community, lockdown drills and active shooter drills. Let’s not add to their burden. As adults, we need to do what we can to make sure we do not add to their levels of anxiety.
There is risk in living. However, when we panic and let fear guide us and try to eliminate our risks, we end up eliminating what gives life meaning — what it means to live with joy.
So, how do we reel it back and help ourselves — and our children — not get drawn into the panic vortex? We focus on that which is in our control.
Prepare like any other disruptive event — like a snowstorm — but not the apocalypse.
- Wash hands with soap and water.
That said, pay attention to over-washing that results in raw and chapped skin. If this is becoming an obsession seek help from a mental health professional.
- Boost your immune system.
Get plenty of sleep, eat vegetables and fruit — don’t stress eat sugars — and exercise to reduce stress (since stress weakens your immune system).
Have you been meaning to try meditation? Now is a good time to start. There are lots of apps out there (such as Calm, Insight Timer and Stop Breathe Think) to help you find peace and bring your – and your children’s — cortisol (stress hormone) levels down.
If you or your child starts to feel overwhelmed, dizzy and heading in crisis mode, focus on the breath. Try breathing in for four, hold for seven and exhale for eight. After a few rounds, you will feel a difference in body and mind.
- Avoid “predicting the future”
Stay in the reality of now. Avoid the slippery slope of what-ifs and what might happen.
The news has a massive impact on our distress. Try these ideas to reduce it.
- Limit media.
Again, for ourselves and for our children. Turn off the TV, especially when the kids are home.
- Turn off all news notifications and set screen time news limits.
Many children who have access to digital devices receive news alerts. Turn them off. For those who go looking for the news, you can select how many minutes or hours the news app can be accessed in a day.
As adults, we know the media profits from grabbing and keeping our attention, but many kids aren’t aware of this. The constant barrage of headlines can be overwhelming and can cause anxiety and even panic. Provide your children with age-appropriate education toward the current concern. For example show them the video from the CDC posted on our website. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPsY-jLqaXM
- Don’t go down the “rabbit hole” online.
We also get caught up into thinking that if we keep reading, we just might find the one thing that can make a difference. Unfortunately, constant news, stories and information is not helpful — it just puts us in high alarm and overwhelms us.
- Vary your media sources.
- As the saying goes “Little pitchers have big ears”.
As parents, we need to be aware of what we discuss with other adults in front of our kids.
Despite our deepest desires (and our very best efforts), we cannot control everything. This is a high-profile illustration of the inherent risk of living that we have to get comfortable with. Yes, we are smart and mitigate risk when we can, but we keep our heads. What we can control is our ability to accept and more importantly to strengthen our ability to sit with that discomfort, and help our children learn this too.
As adults, we are the front line on reducing anxiety. Many of our children are too young to remember all the other panics that we have faced — Ebola, SARS, AIDS, bird flu, swine flu, Zika virus and even terrorism. It may give us comfort to remind ourselves and teach our children that this is not the first time something new and scary has hit the world and the vast majority of us have been OK.
We, as adults and parents, need to start with ourselves. Kids are smart. If we tell them all is OK but we are freaking out, they will see through that and it will alarm them even more.
We have no idea what the next few weeks will be like. Let’s not exhaust ourselves already.
All of us at the FSCS Health Centers want you to stay safe and healthy!