This year, many gap year students have been experiencing a lot of stress due to the Coronavirus pandemic. What happens when a student develops an emotional problem while he/she is in Israel? How can the student or parent recognize the signs of a serious problem? Who can the student turn to? How can the parent who is thousands of miles away, help?
There is a lot of assistance and support available to students who are having an emotionally difficult time during their year in Israel. If this is the student’s first time experiencing depression, anxiety, eating problems or “disturbing” thoughts, it can be frightening and overwhelming. Many people “shut down” in these situations, trying to avoid dealing with the problem and not being open about it. Just the opposite is necessary so the student can get the help he/she needs.
It’s important for parents to recognize changes in your child’s behavior. Some of the indicators of everyday stress becoming more serious are:
If any of these warning signs persist over a series of weeks or interfere with your child’s ability to function, it’s important for your child to reach out for help.
You can urge your child/student to speak to a madrich (a), em/av bayit, or the school’s mental health counselor. If the student says “there is nothing wrong” or is uncomfortable speaking to anyone at the school, we urge parents to contact the school yourself. Inform the school your child is displaying A, B, and C behavior. State that it is unusual for the student and you would like the school counselor to speak to the student, to decide if the student’s behavior is serious.
Your child may not want to communicate with you about their personal life and that is okay. Talking about mental health and emotional problems is difficult and tough for everyone. Even if your child does not share details, we urge you to assure your child that emotional problems are very common and he is not alone in these feelings. If your child does need counseling, each school has a list of qualified English speaking therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists to refer to.
There is never a time to be concerned about the stigma of an emotional problem!
“A recent study shows some parents are concerned that other people would avoid their child if it were known they had a mental health problem, but less than 5% of all parents would want their child to avoid a friend with a mental health problem.” Transition Year JED nonprofit organization New York, NY
Students who are keeping their anxiety and fears bottle up inside are more likely to turn to alcohol and drugs (or even food) to self-medicate and numb these negative feelings. The sooner a student is able to talk about what is bothering him/her, the sooner he receives the tools to conquer the issue.
EMA Care is here to help your child receive the assistance and help necessary for any emotional issue.
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My experience with Ema Care has been so positive that I wanted to share it in case it could help someone else. Eight days ago my daughter, a Shanah Bet student, called to say she wasn’t feeling well and had symptoms of Covid-19. I was put in touch with an Infectious Disease specialist who recommended Ema Care. I reached Dr. Eliana Aaron easily and signed my daughter up. The next morning, Ema Care gave my daughter a telehealth exam and provided her with prescriptions, as well as a list of...