Kids need help to preserve and promote their mental health and resiliency right now. In southwest Minnesota, one project that’s giving students a boost is a group therapy program at Red Rock Central School and Windom Area Schools funded by a grant from Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF). At the end of last year, students spent 10 weeks studying “Healthy Mindsets for Super Kids,” an evidence-based curriculum that boosts resilience for kids ages 7 to 14.
Rachel Cox Raverty works as a mental health consultant for Southwest West Central Service Cooperative (SWWC) and applied to Southwest Initiative Foundation for grant funding to purchase the Healthy Mindsets for Super Kids curriculum. She is a clinical social worker and licensed therapy provider and led the therapy sessions, too.
“We are so grateful to Southwest Initiative Foundation for the funding that was able to make these groups possible. It was an amazing experience that impacted many students in our rural communities and provided group therapy to children in greater Minnesota who otherwise do not have access to this level of care,” Rachel said.
The pandemic-related decline in child and adolescent mental health has become a national emergency, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association. Rachel worked with students to minimize negative impacts of grief, loss, fear, anxiety and trauma.
“Resiliency will be critical for our kids following the trauma and anxiety associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and feelings of isolation. This grant helps support students in building those muscles,” said Nancy Fasching, SWIF Vice President of Community Impact.
A total of 50 students from Red Rock Central School and Windom Area Schools participated, both elementary students and middle schoolers. The weekly sessions covered self-esteem, communication skills, anger and frustration management, grief and loss, positive thinking, healthy relationships and body image.
During each 45-minute session, Rachel provided handouts and modeled the skills. The kids did role-play and discussed content and how it applies to real-life situations. Rachel had students demonstrate their abilities to practice the skill steps and show their understanding. She also helped students process emotions and provided support.
“They did remarkable work and were very insightful,” Rachel said.
Parents also received helpful tips during the program to promote the skills at home by encouraging their children in between sessions, which helped foster continued skills-building and family engagement. Administrators, counselors and social workers at both districts put a great deal of time and effort into coordinating the services, Rachel said. The feedback received from students and staff was positive.
“All the students said that they would like to participate in groups in the future, and both districts also expressed an interest,” Rachel said.
If further care is needed for students, Rachel will work with the districts and families to secure appropriate services.
The grant from SWIF to support Healthy Mindsets for Super Kids is part of a larger COVID-19 response and recovery effort at the foundation totaling nearly $16 million in southwest Minnesota since the start of the pandemic.
Help for Helpers
The last two years have been tough on our minds, hearts and spirits, whether you’re a teacher, child care provider, health care worker, have an important place on an assembly line, or are another type of essential worker or service provider. Southwest Initiative Foundation wants to offer you some relief.
Check out our “Help for Helpers” tools to help release your spirit and increase your capacity to take on the world.