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Healthy Minds

National PTA has a new Mental Health pilot program and chose Louisiana PTA to be one of only a few to implement it! The Louisiana Healthy Minds State Champion for the program is Jessica Latin and is the Chair of the LAPTA Mental Health Committee. As a licensed professional counselor and doula, she is passionate about mental health. She serves as Secretary for the Judson Warriors PTA in Shreveport, LA and is a wife and mother of two elementary students. 

 

For the next three years, she will be empowering families with resources and tools to help them make mental health a daily priority! If you would like Jessica to give a presentation at your school, event, or community organization, contact her at healthyminds@LouisianaPTA.org

Navigating the Waves of Test Anxiety: A Guide for Students and Families

Test anxiety is a common challenge that students across different grade levels face. From elementary school to high school, the pressure to perform well on exams can manifest in various ways. It's essential for families to recognize the signs, understand the symptoms, and implement strategies to help students overcome these hurdles.

Elementary School: Laying the Foundation
In the early years, signs of test anxiety in elementary students may include restlessness, stomachaches, or a reluctance to attend school on test days. Parents can foster a positive attitude toward learning by creating a supportive environment, maintaining open communication, and introducing simple relaxation techniques.

Middle School: Navigating the Middle Ground
As students transition to middle school, test anxiety may intensify. Symptoms might include increased self-doubt, perfectionism, or trouble concentrating. Encouraging time management skills, establishing regular study routines, and promoting a growth mindset can help middle schoolers build resilience in the face of academic challenges.

High School: Facing the Summit
In high school, the stakes may feel higher, and the symptoms of test anxiety can become more pronounced. Students might experience sleep disturbances, heightened stress levels, or avoidance behaviors. It's crucial for families to emphasize self-care, encourage realistic goal-setting, and provide access to additional academic support if necessary.

Tips for Students and Families:
1. Open Communication: Encourage open discussions about academic pressures and emotions.
2. Healthy Habits: Prioritize adequate sleep, nutrition, and physical activity to support overall well-being.
3. Mindfulness Techniques: Teach relaxation exercises, deep breathing, or meditation to help manage stress.
4. Effective Study Strategies: Foster effective study habits, such as breaking down tasks and setting achievable goals.
5. Professional Help: If anxiety persists, consider seeking support from a mental health professional.

While these tips can be beneficial, it's essential for families to recognize when test anxiety becomes overwhelming. Seeking professional mental health help is a proactive step towards addressing and managing these challenges effectively. Mental health professionals can provide personalized strategies and support to help students navigate the academic journey with confidence.

Remember, addressing test anxiety is a collaborative effort involving students, families, and educators working together to create a positive and supportive learning environment. Click the link for the LEAP TO CONFIDENCE worksheet to assist with coping with testing anxiety for the upcoming LEAP tests and beyond! Happy Testing!

- Jessica Latin, PTA Healthy Minds Louisiana State Champion

Back to School Help for Students with Anxiety and OCD

Getting back into the routine of school can challenge students in many ways, especially for children with anxiety and OCD. Here are some resources from AnxietyTraining.com that can help.

  1. "A School Counselor Can Be a Great Ally for Children with Anxiety and OCD" highlights the importance of the school counselor and provides helpful tips on how parents can fully utilize the counselor to support their child at school.

  2. "Tips for Teachers to Support Students with School Anxiety" provides insights and tools for teachers to use in the classroom to support students experiencing school-related anxiety.

  3. "Returning to School: How to Handle Uncertainty and Fear" provides helpful strategies for parents of anxious students on how to support the management of uncertainty and fear as they return to school.

  4. "Helping Your Anxious Child Navigate Back to School with Confidence" is a great resource for parents who want to help their child feel more confident as they prepare to go back to school.

There are two resource guidebooks with parent strategies or teacher strategies that provide practical tips, activities, and support for students experiencing anxiety and stress.

Resources

Life is full of ups and downs. It is normal for our emotional state to change on a day-to-day basis and in periods throughout our lives. When our minds are healthy and strong, we are more resilient to life’s challenges, able to use healthy coping methods, have better relationships, and maintain our overall health and well-being. That’s why it is important to be proactive about our mental health! National PTA has developed the PTA Healthy Minds Program to help families make mental health an everyday priority. Check out the resources on this webpage, including informational and activity resources directly for families and resources to help PTAs run PTA Healthy Minds programming. https://www.pta.org/home/programs/Healthy-Lifestyles/mental-health

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LAPTA thanks On Our Sleeves for partnering with us to improve the mental health of children in Louisiana. The On Our Sleeves Alliance works to amplify the cause of children’s mental health through the voices and actions of leading corporations, youth-serving organizations and health care organizations across the country. The Alliance works to empower the mental health and wellness of every child in the US, through fundraising and distribution of expert-created resources necessary for breaking stigmas, educating families, and advocates and teaching mental wellness skills. See OnOurSleeves.org for more.

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The families and members of NAMI Louisiana are here to help! We offer understanding to anyone concerned about mental illnesses and the treatment of mental illness. Mental illnesses are brain disorders that are biologically based medical problems. Untreated, they can cause severe disturbances in thinking, feeling and relating. This results in substantially diminished capacity for dealing with the ordinary demands of life. Mental illness can affect persons of any age and occur in any family. They are not caused by bad parenting and not evidence of weakness of character. https://namilouisiana.org/about-nami-louisiana/

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