EASTHAMPTON – The Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition will be hosting a webinar titled “Teen Health in Pandemic Times” on May 13 at 6 p.m. over Zoom.
According to Rebecca Edwards, the coalition coordinator for Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition, the topic of the webinar is how to support youth during the unprecedented times we are currently living in.
“We’re going to be talking about mental health, and physical health, and how parents and families can think about keeping their young people safe and healthy,” Edwards said.
The webinar will feature a panel of speakers including Dr. Jonathan Schwab, medical director for Northampton Pediatrics; Shannon Hicks, MSW, LICSW, clinical director of the Center for Human Development; Easthampton Public Health Nurse Amy Hardt; and one youth person that is to be determined.
According to Edwards, the webinar is generally more for parents and caregivers, as well as for others who are thinking about how they can support teens during this time.
“Young people are absolutely invited, and maybe parents and teens could watch it together,” said Edwards, who added that people will be able to ask questions during the webinar through the chat. “I can totally imagine parents and teens coming up with questions together for the panel.”
Edwards continued by saying that the pandemic has been “so hard” for young people in so many ways because social interaction and peer groups have been minimized by the current circumstances.
“Being in school is where people get to learn and get to socialize,” said Edwards. “All of that has to come to a halt. People have missed out on entire years of high school and middle school. It’s really hard for youth.”
According to Edwards, there continues to be a shortage of hospital beds for teens in need of clinical and patient support, as well as an overall lack of mental health support locally. “We’ve definitely seen the need grow over the course of this,” she added.
With the ever-changing climate due to the pandemic, Edwards said that parents and teens have had to weigh the difference between social interaction and isolation in terms of cost benefit analysis.
“There are just a lot of social dynamics going on,” said Edwards. “I think that it will be really helpful for people to be able to ask some experts who have a different perspective, and who are looking at data in a different way.”
Those interested in participating in the webinar can follow the Facebook link at https://www.facebook.com/EasthamptonHealth/photos/a.767821406673427/3728122183976653/. According to Edwards, the Zoom link only allows for 100 people to be present within the webinar. The event will be recorded and posted on the Easthampton Media YouTube page following the webinar.