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In our minds the thing: this is how students' mental resilience can be addressed Israel today

2021-12-01T06:47:56.009Z

Returning to school routines revealed the devastation caused to the mental resilience of many students during the Corona Year • In preparation for the Israel Today resilience conference, we met three women professionals from the Ministry of Education for a joint discussion on the changes, challenges - and points



Nearly two years of corona, closures, isolation, social distance and not-so-simple situations at home have also brought the children to low and boiling points.

Now, with the return to the school routine, the task of the staffs in the schools is to give an emotional response to the students who have fallen between the chairs.

In preparation for next week's resilience conference, we met three women professionals from the Ministry of Education to understand why this happened, and how the resilience of students in the education system is addressed.

"One of the things that surprised me the most this year is kids coming in and saying, 'I have an anxiety attack,' diagnosing themselves. I have a lot of students who decide they have an anxiety attack and present themselves as having it."

Liat Hod, a counselor at Moore Maccabim-Reut High School and a national counselor in the crisis management and suicide prevention unit at the Ministry of Education's counseling psychological service (SPI), says these alarming things. "This concept has become very common among them.

Of course, those who are supposed to diagnose are caregivers, and not everyone suffers from anxiety attacks - but this is something that has become a discourse, and it is worrying. "

Liat Hod, counselor at Mor Maccabim-Reut High School and national counselor in the unit for dealing with crisis situations and suicide prevention in the counseling psychological service (SPI) at the Ministry of Education, Photo: Yehonatan Shaul

According to Teri Sternberg-Zamir, an expert educational psychologist and counselor who serves as a coordinator in the field of violence prevention and behavioral problems in the SPI, the anxieties have always been - but increased. The whole routine of life at all levels.

"Every time you have to readjust, it takes a lot of mental strength."

According to her, this is not a point crisis but something ongoing that surrounds us all - children and adults alike.

"The ability of children to adapt to crises depends on the ability of adults to contain the difficulties. But what is happening in the reality we live in at the moment is that adults are in crisis as well. "Routine when they are not accustomed to an agenda or rules, and this thing erupts with great force."

"In adolescents, we see a lot of depression and anxiety, much more than we have seen before," explains Inbal Yaffe, an expert educational psychologist and counselor, director of the educational-developmental psychological service in the Rehovot municipality.

"You see even more exam anxieties, it's not a new thing, but now the scale is bigger and that's because now they are no longer zooming but sitting with the exam right in class and have to deal with the material. "With the social aspect of studies, and now they have to go back to the real world and it's not easy for them. And of course, there are health anxieties as well."

All three agree that the effect is noticeable at all age groups, at each age differently.

Inbal Yaffe, Director of the Educational-Developmental Psychological Service in the Rehovot Municipality, Photo: Yehonatan Shaul

According to Yaffa, another process is taking place in schools: "The developmental task of adolescents is to find their identity - and we see that there are a lot of gender questions. "The sectors. A lot of middle or high school teachers do not always know how to deal with what to say." Counselor Liat Hod: "I'm really strengthening, it's definitely going up and even more reports of sexual assault are coming."

And what happens at younger ages?


"In early childhood, in kindergartens there are more problems of detoxification, we see a regression in social abilities," says psychologist Inbal Yaffe. "Many of them are also glued to screens. In primary schools, many social difficulties are seen, and the main task is to integrate into the classroom, and of course alongside learning - many of them returned to school with a lack of knowledge in reading and writing. "Parental alienation in relation to the past, and it affects the children - we have seen it before, but it has worsened and multiplied."

Psychologist Teri Sternberg-Zamir is also the coordinator of a system for the systemic treatment of early childhood behavioral problems in the psychological-educational service of the Bat Yam Municipality.

"The Corona did not invent anything new, but it also exacerbated the problems of behavior and violence," she says.

"It has implications for wider circles. When a child is in emotional distress, it's a big problem - but personal; when a student acts violently towards others or does not allow a class to be taught - then the whole environment is harmed. "Behavior problems and we built a personal plan for them, today we find ourselves in a situation where the edge goes to the middle, that is, more students with behavior problems. It affects the ability of the educational staff to respond."

Teri Sternberg-Zamir, an expert educational psychologist and counselor who serves as a coordinator in the field of prevention of violence and behavioral problems in Shefi, Photo: Yehonatan Shaul

The solution: parents and teachers

At the tip of the fork, the education system has two professionals who are supposed to provide emotional responses to students, parents and teachers. The first is the school counselor, who is close to the students on a regular basis and meets students in an individual, group and class setting. The counselor guides and accompanies the educational staff, meets and accompanies parents if necessary individually and in groups. An educational consultant has a master's degree in educational counseling and a teaching certificate, and must undergo professional training over three years. The second position is an educational psychologist from the Ministry of Education. The psychologists perform diagnoses, psychological treatments for students and their parents and psychological training for education staff in kindergartens and schools, in regular and special education, and work at the community level.

"We start by providing resilience tools from kindergarten to high school," explains counselor Liat Hod. "We have all kinds of programs like 'Choose Life' to prevent suicide, where they are taught to seek help, taught to talk about difficulties, and there is life-saving knowledge. We work to make students also gatekeepers for their friends. The question 'what makes me happy' arises. The part where we locate the forces with the students and create an intimate group, another emotional dialogue between the facilitator and the student. We also train the educators, who are a very significant figure. They will pass the program to create a more personal dialogue at eye level. In addition, we convey "Life skills classes in which we talk to people about issues related to children's lives, depending on the developmental stage, and provide them with tools for regulating the body, emotions and thoughts."

Psychologist Theri Sternberg-Zamir: "Everyone needs to go through a process of rehabilitating the community, of the loose connections. We need to strengthen the much-needed and lacking empathy. When we talk about violence prevention, the student needs to understand that when he hits - it hurts the other side. I care about my boyfriend, it's something that prevents violence and creates a sense of belonging. "

She explains that "We pass on to children that a crisis is something that can grow out of. With the right coping, children can come out feeling we have been through something difficult but have developed abilities and skills. For example, children who helped at home to little siblings, helped grandparents, children With change, these are important skills for life. "

Students study in class (archive, the photographers have nothing to do with the news), Photo: Liron Moldoven


Do adults also receive treatment?


"The significant adults for children are also in crisis, and their resilience has also decreased. Today, there is an emotional social learning program in which we concentrate on working with the significant adult," says Yaffa.

"It means all the circles that surround the child, from groups in teachers' rooms, school principals, parents, and also therapy groups with the children themselves. We wanted to expand our intervention with eyes towards the adults, to work with them on their resilience, to be strong, so that they can contain the the children".

Counselor Liat Hod: "Teachers and educational staff are also in the process. They also have homes and they also have families and children and they are also reorganizing. The educational staff also gets tools because they are the characters who are with the children most of the day, and they are the ones who need to contain what is happening."

The consideration: a meager wage

And there is an issue that cannot be escaped - the lack of psychologists and psychologists in the public service.

"We are at 70% normal, which means that we are missing 30% of the workforce," says psychologist Inbal Yaffe in pain.

"There is a lack of psychologists, because the conditions of those who work in the public sector are embarrassing. There is a huge shortage of professionals. The private clinics are also blown up and have no place, and on the other hand the distress is great. It is difficult to refer students and families for treatment."

Students at the entrance to the school (those photographed have no connection to the article), Photo: Gideon Markovich, those photographed have no connection to the content of the article

Psychologist Teri Sternberg-Zamir: "Good people leave psychology in the public service, because they can earn ten times as much in a private clinic. It's unfortunate, because we see well the value of public psychological service. Mental health is not a luxury, it is necessary for everyone, probably in the period "This answer given in education is irreplaceable, even if the child goes one hour a week for private treatment. Other than that, many families cannot afford to fund treatments."

Inbal Yaffe concludes: "One of the functions of the public system is to close the gaps between functioning families and those who do not. If we can not address children who do not receive an answer at home, we are losing them - and it is a pity."

Mental Resilience Conference

On Tuesday next week, December 7, the newspaper "Israel Hayom" will hold the Israel Mental Resilience Conference, which will be held for the first time in Israel at the "Zappa Midtown" in Tel Aviv.

The conference will deal with the psychological consequences of the closures on the youth in the country, and the center will present one of the quiet epidemics that has taken place in the last two years - the epidemic of depression and the outbreak of various mental illnesses.

In light of this understanding, "Israel Today" has initiated a huge conference, so that the important issue is raised on the agenda and not neglected due to the load of events and the questions of the hour that Israeli society is facing around the clock.

The conference will open with the words of the editor of "Israel Today" Boaz Bismuth, followed by the speech of the wife of the President of the State, Ms. Michal Herzog.

The conference will be broadcast live on the website and in the "Israel Today" widget.

During the day, from nine in the morning, there will be five sessions that will deal with the various aspects of the mental problems that adolescents in Israel and society as a whole face. The conference will be moderated by "Israel Hayom" reporter Daniel Roth-Avnery and the sessions will be moderated by the newspaper's staff, including Meital Yasur Beit-Or, Ran Pony, Shir Ziv, Ran Reznik and Jackie Levy.

The first session will be attended by Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, who will be interviewed by the newspaper's health commentator, Ran Reznik, on the subject of "vaccination for resilience."

This session will feature a dialogue with the participation of MK Michal Waldiger of the Religious Zionist faction and the head of the Mental Health Lobby in the Knesset, along with MK Michal Rosin of Meretz, Dr. Ilan Tal and Dr. Gilad Bodenheimer.

In the second session, "Crossing the Border," Nava Barak, president of the Elam Association, will speak about the impact of the corona on youth on the margins of society.

The third session will deal with ways to educate for mental health, the fourth will focus on sports as a way for mental health and the fifth, which will sign the conference, will deal with parents' coping with the processes going on in adolescent youth.

Tickets for the event can be purchased on the Zappa website.

Assaf Golan participated in the preparation of the article

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Source: israelhayom

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