Help your high school and college senior cope with missed milestones.
Adam Barnett Published: 5/18/2020
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Can you remember your senior year? Do you remember how fun it was and the memories you were able to make?
You look forward to your senior year the first time you step on campus your freshman year. As a freshman, you want to be like the seniors. You have to walk the halls, study and wait three long, grueling years before you are officially called a senior. Finally, it is your time to shine. It is your senior year! You have prom/formal, senior skip days, Senior Night, yearbook signings and graduation to look forward to. All of these events are milestones.
Earlier this year, many seniors around the nation began missing out on these social events due to COVID-19. Now seniors are having to settle for no physical classes, no prom or formals, and no Senior Nights; instead, they are coping with virtual classes, virtual hangouts and virtual graduation.
According to Vicki VanGundy, MEd, therapist/licensed mental health counselor intern at Wolfson Children’s Center for Behavioral Health, young adults are experiencing different emotions due to the cancelation of school events due to COVID-19.
“My patients who are students each have their own perspective on how they are handling this pandemic. We see some students and families who are very disheartened because they have really been looking forward to the celebrations and these milestone events. Other students are experiencing a sense of relief as they tend to have high levels of anxiety. Postponement and cancellation of these events eliminate the stress and anxiety,” said VanGundy.
During these unique times, families, celebrities and the students themselves are rising to the occasion and getting creative to honor and recognize seniors. John Krasinski (the lovable Jim Halpert on "The Office") created "Some Good News," which highlights good news around the world during COVID-19. He and other celebrities offered a graduation ceremony for high school seniors, as well as a virtual prom.
VanGundy offers a few helpful tips for students to help them with their anxiety and stress:
- You know yourself the best. Understand what relieves your stress and anxiety, and use coping skills when needed.
- Help your parents/guardian understand how you cope with stressful situations so they will know how to support you.
- Use the 478 Breathing technique (Breathe in 4 seconds through your nose, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds.)
But parents have a responsibility, too. Acknowledge that this time may be difficult for your senior. While this may not be a loss of a family member, it is still a loss, and your student is grieving. They are saying goodbye to their friends, teachers and what they have known for the past four years.
This year’s senior class may not be able to celebrate their hard work and achievements like the classes ahead of them. VanGundy suggests, the next time you see a senior, acknowledge their accomplishments, and congratulate them for their hard work because we are all in this together.
Baptist Behavioral Health has opened virtual offices to provide mental health services to you while practicing social distancing. Schedule an appointment or view helpful mental health resources for our community by visiting Baptist Behavioral Health. For more information, visit baptistjax.com/COVID19 or if you have questions about COVID symptoms, call 904.302.5050.