Some Interviews

Throughout this month, I will be interviewing various members of the community, students, teachers, parents, and even mental health professionals regarding their opinions, perspectives, and experiences surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and the mental health of children. Check out and listen to all the interviews below!

Note: Interviewee names and any additional personal information are not provided for the sake of their own privacy.

Check out my interview above with Dr. Steven Sust, a clinical instructor and child, adolescent and adult psychiatrist at one of the many Stanford clinics in the Bay Area. We discuss his experience working hands-on with children throughout the pandemic as well as his personal take on mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Sust is currently also working in collaboration with allcove, an organization created to provide emotional, physical, and social support to our youth; the allcove centers were first established by Stanford's Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, in collaboration with numerous others. Please do also take a look at allcove (and their outstanding message) here: https://allcove.org/about/.

Check out my interview above with a parent and PTSA member in Silver Creek high school, a local public high school in San Jose. We discuss her views on mental health, how she plays a role in maintaining her childrens' mental health, and even her journey into yoga and its positive influence on mental health!

Check out my interview above with the Dean of Student Affairs of a private high school in the Bay Area. We talk about his perspectives on mental health, how his department and the school as a whole strives to preserve their students' mental health, and his experiences dealing with students' mental health and wellbeing now and throughout the peak of the pandemic.

One particular school in the Bay Area has recently, only this year, appointed a school counselor to be a dedicated mental health resource and confidante/adviser for their students. Check out my interview with the newly-appointed school counselor. We discuss her take on mental health as well as the methods she uses to emotionally support and guide her students!

An amazing example of recent advances in mental health activism, a group of students at a Bay Area high school formed a Mental Wellbeing and Activism Club; the club is the school's first mental-health centric group. Check out my interview with the club founders, where we talk about their personal experiences dealing with mental health as well as what motivated and pushed them to create their spectacular club!

Check out my interview with an AP Biology teacher of a Bay Area private high school. We discuss her stance on mental health as well as her experiences teaching and interacting with students throughout the pandemic.

Interview transcript is below:

  1. In your view, what do you believe mental health is?

  • I believe mental health is about mental resilience, proper cognitive functioning, and maintaining equanimity.

  1. Why do you believe mental health is so important?

  • I think that a person in good mental health capacity can achieve their full potential. It is important for a person to be in good mental health, to be calm and composed, reflective, and be able to acknowledge where they are going wrong. This way you can do your best, be reflective and learn, and be productive.

  1. Do you think mental health is taboo?

  • In some cultures, yes. I personally do not think it should be taboo, but mental health can be perceived as a sign of weakness of complaining, or making excuses.

  1. Is there still a considerable amount of stigma against mental health? If so, why do you believe that is?

  • I think there is. I believe it is due to lack of education and awareness about this topic and that people do not know how to deal with issues that are brought up by another person.

  1. How did the pandemic impact your ability to teach last year? Do you still think the pandemic is impacting your ability to teach now, even with in-person school?

  • It was harder to assess students’ state of mind last year, and so this year it is much better, as we can catch those emotional cues, but, teaching/talking with mask on is tiring, but I am happy to be in person – it is much better.

  1. Last year, during the period of online school, did you notice any changes in the behavior of the kids you were teaching, and by extension maybe even their mental health?

  • I noticed that students were more conscious with the camera on and did not want to participate because they felt they were more “on the spot.” Many struggled to keep their camera on or show their feelings. Often I would see the light fixture on the wall or the ceiling. I think it was also harder to find humor in the situation last year. Students may have felt isolated, alone, and this may have led to feelings of inadequacy.

  1. Now that we are in person, have you noticed any changes in the behavior or mental health (of the kids you are teaching) since before the pandemic?

  • I see students talking, giggling, laughing in the class, and it is so much fun to teach again. Students are able to ask for help without feeling nervous. We can also have peer TA programs now. Students feel more confident, less anxious.

  1. Do believe, from your personal experience and observations, that the pandemic has globally led to an overall decline in the mental health of children?

  • Most students are bouncing back really quickly. But some are really struggling to adjust again to the new reality.

  1. Do you have any tips for students struggling with their mental health at this time?

  • Talk to people you trust, open up. Take it one day at a time. Write positive memos or comments to keep morale up even if things are not going your way.

  1. What do you think is the best way for students/children to preserve and maintain their mental health?

  • Keep an open relationship with your parents/guardians/teachers. Keep a supportive peer group around you. Do not engage in harmful peer or social media interactions. Be open about any issues or struggles you are facing and seek help.

Check out my interview with a sophomore of a private high school in the Bay Area. We discuss her views and stance on mental health, and our personal experiences and challenges with our mental health and wellbeing as children, or teens, living throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.