Feature Stories

Minnetonka Schools Hosts Virtual Event: Navigating Mental Health Challenges during COVID-19

Minnetonka Schools held a Virtual Mental Health Town Hall, "Navigating Mental Health Challenges during COVID-19," on November 18. Two hundred and fifty participants signed up to attend the virtual presentation and panel event, which was sponsored by the Minnetonka Schools Mental Health Advisory Council and the District's Parenting with Purpose Speaker Series.

The town hall included presentations from Dr. JoAnne Hoffman Jecha, MD; Dr. Katie Holter, PsyD; and Sandy Mangle, MA, AMFT. A Q&A panel with presenters followed. Minnetonka Schools school psychologist Dr. Jonna Hirsch, PhD; Relate Chemical Health Clinician and Tonka CARES Coordinator Judy Hanson, LSW, MA; and two students from MHS also joined the panel to answer questions and share their perspectives on student and family mental health.

Dr. Hoffman Jecha presented on health lifestyles, covering topics from sleep, social media, diet, vitamins, and connections to combat anxiety and stress. She also discussed impairment and how to know when it is time to get help.

Dr. Holter presented on the validity of all emotions and the power of validating feelings. She also covered the topics of coping skills and self-regulation.

Sandy Mangle, MA AAMFT, presented on the realities and effects of COVID and the mental health needs of families, while offering many family and self-care strategies.

The speakers' presentation slides are available to view here.

Minnetonka Schools, with support and direction of the School Board and Dr. Peterson, has made student well-being and mental health an ongoing priority.

The School Board's Goal 1 on Student Well-Being states,

In pursuit of child-centered excellence, the well-being of students is a continuing priority for families and the District. In 2020-2021, the District will continue the development and implementation of a plan that supports families' desires to have their students be socially and emotionally strong and provides the necessary level of support to students for their academic, social, and emotional well-being. The District will continue to foster and promote positive student well-being efforts and identify leading causes of issues that have a detrimental effect on student well-being.

"Minnetonka Schools and the Mental Health Advisory Committee recognize the great need for support and interest in mental health, especially during these ongoing unprecedented times," said Michelle Ferris, Executive Director of Student Support Services.

The Mental Health Advisory Council plans to offer further family and community outreach. If you have ideas and recommendations, please send your input to michelle.ferris@minnetonkaschools.org.

Families, students, staff and community members may access well-being resources through the Minnetonka Schools Well-Being Guide: minnetonkaschools.org/wellbeing

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