School leaders teach kids to cope during storms

School leaders teach kids to cope during storms

ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Health leaders with the Dougherty County School System (DCSS) say they saw students battle anxiety after Hurricane Michael in 2018, and many of them are still fighting it today.

School leaders said some students showed signs of stress, anxiety and trauma because of the devastation. Many of them were without water, electricity and also displaced.

Behavioral specialists said after being out of school for a week, kids feared the storm would return.

Downed trees from Hurricane Michael, October 2018. (Source: WALB)
Downed trees from Hurricane Michael, October 2018. (Source: WALB)

It took work to help students process their trauma, but behavior specialists provided platforms for students to share their stories in order to heal.

“It was a matter of helping students regain that equilibrium, that sense of normalcy," said Dr. Tracy Knighton, DCSS behavioral health specialist. "Giving them an opportunity to let them come back to a safe place. Some students’ homes were totally destroyed and unlivable now. So school helped to create an anchor for them.”

Health leaders said they are seeing the same fears and behavioral changes in kids during this hurricane season.

Currently, they’re trying to help students cope with these issues, and to understand that not every storm will bring about destruction.

“It may be rain showers with some thundering and lightning. Of course, you’re going to have some tense students, some stressed students. So just helping them to relax. Teaching them mindfulness activities. Teaching them ways to relax. Helping them to understand that school is a safe place,” Knighton said.

Behavioral specialists said if you see signs of trauma or anxiety, it’s important to contact your child’s school counselor immediately.

Copyright 2019 WALB.