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Webinar teaches coping tactics to adolescents during the COVID-19 storm

Six-part series is free and open to the public

The Ohio State University is offering tools to help young adolescents ease anxiety and build resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The six-part webinar, titled “Staying Calm and Well in the Midst of the COVID-19 Storm,” is open to all ages, but with a focus on 10- to 14-year olds.

Developed by Bernadette Melnyk, university chief wellness officer and dean of the College of Nursing and the Buckeye Wellness team, the sessions are designed to equip children with easily digestible but important knowledge and skills to sustain well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinars are free and open to the public at go.osu.edu/adolescentstaywell

Melnyk says it’s important to teach resiliency, coping strategies and healthy behavior habits as early as possible.

“We want to provide early teens with evidence-based cognitive-behavioral, coping and resiliency skills as well as to help them develop healthy lifestyle habits, including physical activity, healthy eating and needed sleep,” Melnyk said. “Mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, are on the rise in our adolescents in addition to overweight/obesity. The earlier we can teach children these skills, the better chance we have at preventing these problems.”

Because peer-to-peer counseling works well with young adolescents, students from the colleges of Nursing and Education and Human Ecology will facilitate the webinars and answer questions. Taylor Schwein, a fourth-year honors student majoring in nursing at Ohio State, is one of the instructors.

“I hope that the teens and families watching this webinar know that it is okay to feel anxious, stressed or depressed during these very trying times in our world,” Schwein said. “All of those feelings are very normal and no one is alone in feeling that way. It’s so important to recognize those feelings and continue to work on your mental health when things get hard.”

Each week, the webinar will cover a new topic.

  • Week one – Stress Buster: Using Cognitive-Behavioral Skills to Allay Anxiety and Depression
  • Week two – Staying Physically Active While Home: Tips and Tricks
  • Week three – Be Here Now: Mindfulness Works!
  • Week four – Sleep Soundly During the COVID-19 Pandemic: You Can Do It!
  • Week five – Eating Healthy and Balanced in Stressful Times: Why it Matters
  • Week six – Resiliency, Gratitude and Positivity: A Timely Trio in the Midst of the COVID-19 Storm

Each webinar will be conducted via Zoom. Polling will be used to measure stress and anxiety each week to look for trends. Each session is 30 minutes, with approximately 25 minutes spent on presentations with a few minutes for Q&A at the end. 

The webinar is based on a series of resources developed by Melnyk and other university wellness leaders for the Ohio State community titled “Staying calm and well in the midst of the COVID-19 storm. Evidence-based Tactics that Work!” That series, presented in April, had 4,500 registrants with an average live attendance of 1,300. More than 85% of participants found the series moderately or very helpful, and over 95% reported that they’ve put the skills taught in the series into practice. Recordings of the eight-week online webinars are posted here.

Melnyk also encourages parents to watch the webinars with their children so they can reinforce the concepts and skills being taught at home.

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