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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

GECDSB and Maryvale begin “Coping Together” seminar series

by Garrett Fodor

As times are changing, the Greater Essex County District School Board (GECDSB) and Maryvale Adolescent and Family Services have partnered together to help the community through tough and changing times.

  For the past eight years, the GECDSB has offered a “Mental Health Seminar Series,” providing different tips and techniques from professionals in the industry to guide students and their families through various situations they may face. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GECDSB has shifted its focus to digital, and partnered with Maryvale Adolescent and Family Services to complete a six-part series, titled “Coping Together.”

  Each piece in the series features different topics and speakers from Maryvale. The presentations are free for anyone to attend and cover a wide-range of topics. The weekly seminars will run every Wednesday from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m., with the last episode airing March 31.

  The seminars have practical strategies to help with stress, routines, self regulation, knowing when to find help, having a healthy balance as the caregiver and the academic coach for their student, and using one skill to overcome the barriers that the COVID-19 pandemic has created.

  The two organizations began planning the series in December and worked nearly two-months to develop the topics and presentations for it. 

  Kathy Morneau, one of the organizers of the event at Maryvale, describes the goal of the series as not only a way to help people, but also show they are not alone. She noted that previously, before the pandemic, there would have been a rise in sports, clubs, and activities for socialization but currently, everyone feels more alone or closed-off. She believes the digital seminars are providing a great way to get their message across.

  Representatives from GECDSB and Mayvale noted since the COVID-19 pandemic has started, both organizations have noticed a rise in demand for the organization’s counselling services, and that this year’s topics for the seminar were picked based on the needs of the community.

  “The GECDSB has hosted the community Mental Health Seminar Series for the past eight years,” Charysse Pawley siad, who is the Mental Health Lead and Supervisor of Social Work and Attendance Counselling Services of the GECDSB. “Last year, these in-person presentations were cancelled after the first couple of events because of COVID-19. So, virtual events, replaced the in-person events this year. However, the seminar topics continue to be selected on what families and students are highlighting what their concerns they are facing.” 

Pawley noted these times can be challenging. While some families have adapted, others are struggling, due to different work conditions and a change in situations. She added that these presentations are to help provide tips, strategies, and resources on how to make changes within their control.

  The seminar series will be rebroadcast on the GECDSB and Maryvale websites. Those interested in signing-up to attend the seminars virtually, are welcome to do so on the GECDSB (publicboard.ca) or Maryvale (maryvale.ca) websites.

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