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Back to school during a pandemic: Student Mental Health

September 8, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Children in Missouri and around the U.S. are breaking new ground as they head back to school this fall. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, children today are the first cohort in the modern age to begin a new school year with a deadly virus spreading. What are the mental health implications of going back to school in this environment? What should policymakers and school administrators consider going forward?

We hope that attendees gained a better understanding of the policy landscape around education and mental health science considerations. The Missouri LSEN has provided resources (below) for attendees to easily share important scientific information concerning education and mental health with their elected officials.

Meet our Speakers

Colleen Colaner, Ph.D. - Dr. Colleen Colaner's research examines how communication shapes and sustains relationships in complex, diverse, and modern family structures and experiences. A major focus of her research is communication in adoptive families, examining how adoptive parents’ communication with and about birth families sustains adoptee wellbeing. Colleen also researches links between family communication and diverse social identities, such as religion and political identification. In this work, Colleen focuses on children’s communication experiences and abilities, with an aim to understand children’s unique perceptions of their family relationships. Colleen takes an applied approach to scholarship by translating family communication research to families in the community. Colleen serves as a family communication educator, partnering with mental health professionals in Columbia to provide families with strategies for connecting and coping. Her research is solution-focused to provide families with communication processes to support relational health and personal wellbeing.

Chris Horn - Chris Horn is a member of the School Board for Columbia Public Schools in Columbia, MO. He was first elected to the School Board in 2020 and serves on the finance committee and long-range facilities planning committee. Chris holds a BS degree in Mathematics from University of Missouri and is a Reinsurance Manager at Shelter Insurance. He serves on the advisory council for the Inclusive Impact Institute and is a board member for Heart of Missouri CASA. Chris's hobbies include basketball, golf, reading, and learning new things.

Dr. Sarah Soden, M.D. - Dr. Sarah Soden is the Director of the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Health at Children’s Mercy Kansas City, leading a team of more than 60 clinical professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, and developmental pediatricians, behavior analysts and advance practice nurses. In this role Dr. Soden has served as co-lead of the Mental Health Strategy Committee for the Enterprise Strategic Plan. Dr. Soden is board certified in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities; her clinical practice involves the diagnosis and care of youth with developmental disorders including intellectual disability and autism.

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