Among the many milestones lost to COVID, families across NYC are grieving the loss of a major milestone for kids, teens, and young adults: graduation. Whether it’s finishing first grade or First-Generation students graduating from college, digital celebrations just aren’t the same. Host Mila Myles talks with youth experts Nicholas Tamborra, a Social Worker at School Based Mental Health, and Raysa Betances, a Youth Empowerment Coach at Cedar Knolls House, about how they’re preparing students on Staten Island and families for their big day in June.
Welcome to New York State of Mindfulness, a podcast about mental health, wellness, and the communities we live in throughout New York City, sponsored by The Jewish Board. I'm your host, Mila Myles. Today, we're talking about virtual graduations in Staten Island. I'm joined by our own Raysa Betances and Nicholas Tamborra.
Nicholas Tamborra is a licensed mental health counselor at the Morris L. Black Counseling Center on Staten Island. He is also the social worker for the Prevention and Intervention program, a Jewish Board program designed to promote mental health, academic success and wellness in high schools across New York City. Welcome, Nicholas.
Thank you for having me.
Our next guest, Raysa Betances, is a youth empowerment coach at Cedar Knolls House, one of The Jewish Board's youth residential centers. She has been working with youth at The Jewish Board for over four years, including former positions as a social work intern and case manager at Kaplan House. Raysa is currently studying for her masters of social work from Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work, and specializes in psychosocial care, family services, and trauma informed crisis counseling. Welcome, Raysa.
Thank you for having me.
So, we're talking about virtual graduations in Staten Island today. And there's a lot, I think, between our own experiences with having non-virtual graduations and watching some people that we know and care about have to have a completely different experience for something that can be so sentimental and monumental points in their life. I wanted to talk to you all today a little bit about you're working with youth, working with high school students, who in high school, especially nowadays, a lot of people, a lot of kids… And I think we all have felt this way at some point, but we were lucky enough to have the grace of not being so connected to everyone our age around the world at the push of a button.
So, I feel like we had a lot less pressure when we were in school to be adults. And I can only imagine virtual schooling and COVID. A lot of kids that you all have worked with in the spaces that you work with them have compounded pressures while being in virtual school during COVID. And I guess I just wanted to know a little bit about some of the anxieties around planning and some of the effects that virtual schooling has caused some children who learn differently, and are more tactile learners, and need to be in the presence of an educator and their classmates in a community setting. So, I guess I'll let you guys take it away with that first topic.
It's been difficult. It's been extremely difficult for them. I mean, the fact that they're in their homes or their space, and it's them having to get up to log on to a computer, it's not motivating for them. As a teenager, you like getting up, you like getting dressed, you like stepping outside. And then the fact that they don't get to do this, that's hard, right? So, I think the number one issue is getting them out of bed, right? It's like they know that they don't really have to get up and move anywhere, so them getting out of bed, it's not a priority. It's like, "Okay, I'm just going to log on to the class. I'm not even going to brush my teeth or do my hair." And that in and of itself is a struggle.
And then for students that are more tactile learners, it's hard because it's like you're basically teaching yourself. You're sitting in front of a screen all day, you're just clicking buttons, you don't really get that instruction. And I'm seeing a lot of students' grades deteriorate because of this. And it's hard. It's hard to get them to process, and it's hard to get them motivated to get up and do this. And the fact that they don't have the social interaction as well with other students, I mean, I sometimes sit in on some of these Zoom classes with my kids, and all you see is blank screens with their names, no photos, the teachers are losing interest. So, it's a lot.
So, the pandemic as a whole really has highlighted various disparities that have already been in the educational system prior to COVID. It isn't necessarily always a situation that just started within the last year. It's more has been magnified and compounded based on the ways that the education system has sometimes been unable to really provide an adequate educational environment for all kinds of students. Coming into this second school year fully remote, or at least remote for most of the year, there's been many students who have not been able to have the type of learning that they need because they've fallen through, maybe, some of the gaps that the school has been unable to provide, or has not been able to develop the proper platform to engage those students. So, for many of those students, and in particular students with an ADHD diagnosis, students with autism, for example, many other students part of the neurodivergent community, these particular students have not had many educational environments modeled after their learning, after the way that they engage in the way that makes it most productive to them. And that's before COVID.
After COVID, this type of remote learning, there isn't really enough research right now that's been able to indicate whether or not remote learning is effective for them, and/or if it's creating unique circumstances that are making it that much more difficult. Some students have been able to try and work out around it as best as they can. And actually, I do know some students with ADHD that have been able to even thrive in this environment. But that's also because of planning and support through their own families, which on its own can be another type of barrier if they're in a home environment that may not have maybe the privacy or space to learn adequately or effectively. And also, that's keen on taking into account the many maybe possible family issues at home, that they may not be able to create boundaries between their school life and their home life. And I think some schools are aware of this.
But having taken a role as a therapist in a school, there are many times that conversations with teachers appear to miss these ways that these disparities appear in the moment. I think there's this abstract understanding of what these disparities look like, but sometimes, they struggle with applying it to the students that they work with directly.
I'm happy that you mentioned that some students… I was focusing on some of the kids who need that physical presence. And I am a person with ADHD since I was a kid. So, I'm really happy that you mentioned that on the flip side, there actually are other students who usually don't have the environment that they need, and this may have been the kind of environment that they have needed to help them thrive, along with a supportive family. For some students, this provided that that kind of space. But you also mentioned working in the school, and I definitely wanted to talk more about that between the two of you. And I'm happy that we have you two as guests, because one of you is working with students residentially, and the other one is working with students in that environment. And I'm wondering, because I didn't actually get any clarification for your roles and how it's affected your roles, because you are, I think, I'm sure a lifeline support for a lot of your students, I guess, how that has affected your presence, and if you were able to still, at some point during the 2020 school year or the 2021 school year, see your students in person.
So, because I work in residential, I see them on a day-to-day basis. I'm their youth empowerment coach, so my main focus is really their education or vocational needs, making sure that those needs are met. Because of the age group that I work with, 16 to 21 years old, my main focus is usually school, right? Because they need an education. At minimum, a high school, I always try to push for that. And what I've noticed is that what I do a lot, and I hate to say it, but it's kind of like babysitting, right? Where it's, I wake up in the morning, I go through my phone, and I give my girls their wake up calls, right? Wake up, start getting ready, it's time for school. And I come into the office, and I'm doing room checks, and I'm making sure they're never home. It's without a doubt, very few times are they really up and ready to go. So, it's just making sure that they're awake and making sure that they have their computers, that their computers are charged, if they don't have a computer, send them down to the main office to borrow one, and then getting them motivated to go. And then just constantly checking in on them throughout the day and making sure that they're locked in and doing the work that they have to do.
What I'm noticing is the lack of motivation. And it's just the fact that it's like you're stuck in a building, you're not going out, and it's like you have to, in a sense, teach yourself because these teachers… And what I'm noticing a lot is teachers are just providing you with work until it's like, "Watch this YouTube video, watch this video that I pre-recorded, and then answer questions A, B and C." And a lot of students, it's difficult for them to learn that way. I mean, I would say, luckily, in the youth center I work with, they have myself and they have another coach, where we're able to sit down with them and help them get their work done. And that makes me think, at home, when you're at a home space, and you're by yourself, parents are working or something like that, who's really there to help you? Who's there to motivate you to get you across the stage? And that I think it's difficult for these youths.
So, I work with specifically high school, and part of my role originally was to provide direct individual counseling to students. Part of my other role at the school was also crisis response and prevention. And this type of role existed because schools have disproportionately used more punitive behavior interventions on Black and Brown students, and students with an IEP. So, in particular, within an IEP, students with these IEPs were also disproportionately Black and Brown students, and students with a certain mental health diagnosis, ADHD again, for example. And what's been significant, I think, in this particular, at the school, is that because of COVID and because of the remote learning, those punitive behavior interventions, such as 911, or having a school safety officer intervene, or even just law enforcement intervene, those have not been utilized, I would say, as often as they were when everybody was at the school.
So, there have been ways that in my own role, in order to serve as an alternative to these types of punitive behavior interventions and try to do some more ready response and reflective engagement with students experiencing crisis, we've been able to really demonstrate to this particular high school how we operate and how these type of skills work. And that they are an effective alternative to those types of unproductive referrals that schools often use in order to try and manage behavior that they find problematic. And part of that work on our end is also allowing students to try and practice a form of self advocacy, to try and understand their role in, sometimes, a system that has looked at them in a way that might have been a problem for them, that might have put them at risk. Many of these students in our conversations extends now beyond just the one-on-one. It also extends to sometimes the way the family operates in terms of helping them learn to be advocates for themselves, or finding ways to empower parents to figure out how to navigate the school system better and ways of trying to have direct conversations with guidance counselors, or to help them find creative ways of looking at how to respond to what's a perceived behavior problem, and find productive solutions around that.
In many ways, remote learning has been a safety net for some students that would have been otherwise labeled a problem, and have been put at risk for going into a program, or having an interaction with law enforcement, and just reinforcing the school to prison pipeline. So, with that type of safety net, part of my work has been able to really sit in with students that have had these labels, and actually take them away from that type of challenging environment that was triggering for them, and focus on, all right, you're home now. Let's try and focus on how to take care of yourself, and see, all right, what is the school's problem? Yeah, these are the things that school absolutely needs to do better. Where you come in, where are your coping strategies, and where are your strategies to maybe find solutions on things? Are there ways to build on your communication, or there's ways to take care of yourself emotionally, practice that type of self care or self nurturing that maybe you've been struggling with. So, these roles now have been really diversified and part of the individual counseling, where it's allowed us to really flex our muscles as a counselor service in a way, and demonstrate that to the school, that these are very effective opportunities and strategies to help these students.
It sounds like you're doing amazing work. Amazing. It kind of makes me rethink about this whole cops versus social workers type thing, right? And it just emphasizes the need for workers, for social workers, right? How we could go in and we could help, I guess, bring things on some base and know how to monitor things without such drastic interventions, right? Without the need for such punitive measures. And that's amazing.
My next question for you all has to do with socializing, and grief loss in that. But I didn't even consider that sometimes that lack of socializing minimizes situations that usually would be exacerbated by socializing and allows them to genuinely focus on their own mental health, and talking to you one-on-one, and not worrying about having to see whoever they may be talking about in the next class. Or we're talking about education first here, but a lot of the socialized learning that we get, it starts in high school before we come full fledged adults. Thank you so much for that insight. And I'm really hoping and looking forward to you and your colleagues being able to present that to the school system and present other ways for them to navigate working with their students and these issues.
My next question is about the loss of socializing in general for school ages or school aged students that you all work with. This has been a long year, year and a half of grief. And I'm sure you've had students who've experienced possibly a lot more heavy grief than some others may have expressed. But all around, they're missing the socializing aspect, right? And that could be to some's benefit and some people's detriment. So, I'm just wondering, what have you witnessed or seen as a pattern or something to watch out for with student grief and loss and missing in person graduations and accomplishments?
I think one thing that I've noticed a lot is sort of… I don't want to say that they don't care, but it's sort of like, okay, you look forward to this graduation, right? You look forward to throwing on a cap and gown, and walking across the stage, and shaking hands with your teachers and with your principal, and holding the diploma, and then having them take these pictures of you. And then the fact that they don't get to experience that, it's like, "Well, did I really graduate, or did I just pass on to a next grade or something like that?"
And I think that that's the issue that I'm coming across with a lot of my pupils who either graduate or are about to graduate. It's just like, "Well, yeah, I did all this work, but I don't get the big celebration. I don't get the big bang. Yeah, I can throw on my cap and gown, but ultimately, I'm sitting in front of a camera, so I can have my pajamas on under this cap and gown." And it's just getting them out of that mindset. It's like, regardless of the fact whether you have a virtual graduation or an in person graduation, it's such a huge accomplishment, because not everybody finishes high school, especially kids in foster care. It is such a hard thing to complete, given all of the other stressors that they're going through. And I think that that's definitely one of the harder parts, is just getting them to see that because you're not having what they would consider a real graduation, it doesn't mean that your accomplishment is less than.
And I think that that's one of the things that we try very hard to instill in the youths that we work with. It's like, yes, you graduated, you put in the hard work, you're moving on to the next phase in life. And whether you're walking across the stage or sitting in front of your computer screen with your cap and gown, you did that. You did that, and you should be very proud of yourself for doing that.
Yeah, there's a strengths-based approach to this in having students recognize that this is going to be a complicated feeling, but there is an achievement here. You did graduate, and you were able to work through this year as best as you could in order to get there. I think there is sometimes this conversation that doesn't happen sometimes among parents and teens, where for teens, they're experiencing a kind of complicated loss where they're losing… They didn't have certain experiences that they thought they would have. And sometimes from schools or from parents, and even among peers, the immediate response to that is to try and fix it, understandably. But it's just to kind of say, "Well, you're graduating." But if you're in that moment, and these were things we're looking forward to do, or you're acknowledging that remote learning took experiences away from you, things that you were looking forward to doing, prom, for example, teens don't know how to sit with that. They don't know how to process that. They're trying to figure it out.
And these are experiences that sometimes they feel a little discouraged from talking about because it's this huge global catastrophe, and this pandemic that has roiled this country, and their biggest issue right now is that they can't do prom. And so, they don't want to talk about it, or they feel discouraged from talking about it. But that actually is, in a strengths-based lens, that is something you actually could talk about. That is something you should talk about. It's still something that was taken from you. It's still a loss in some ways, not something that you have as a typical experience, and there's sadness with that. And you got to process that. You have to process that, and it's okay to talk about that.
And that's where a session, and a lot of individual counseling sessions with seniors is these conversations of, you're graduating, and you're feeling ambivalent about it. You're feeling like this isn't really a real graduation. This last year wasn't real for you in a sense. Can you talk about that? Can you walk me through what you're feeling? Is it a sense of grief over that you didn't have this exciting senior year that you wanted to have? And how do we process that? What do we do here? It's not something you can get back, understandably, because we're still in a pandemic. There is only so much that you can do right now. But what do we do here to help you work through those feelings?
And a lot of teens are, I think, this summer, trying to catch up. This graduation, I think, is, from what I got, from a sense of some teens, it's like, it's happening. I think there's going to be maybe an… From what I understood, there may be an in person, small graduation at my high school. But I think many of them are trying to figure out, well, what can we do to make this summer feel like this is my last serious experience before we go to college, or trade school, or something else. And it's trying to figure out ways to help the parents empower them to understand that this can be a complicated feeling. And you're allowed to have that.
Yeah, I remember my first time and my second time, because I was the first one in my family and in my household to do it. And I forget that some of these kids, that's the first and possibly the only, especially in foster care. Wow, poor babies. They feel like they've worked these last 12 years, they earned these moments. Those are the moments they worked so hard to earn. I would be crushed. I would be. This will be three different school years, essentially, this virus, with COVID-19, and the effects that it's left everyone with. From ending the 2020 school year, or the 2019/2020 school year with kids abruptly having to adjust, then starting this whole last school year being almost completely under.
Graduation 2020 versus 2021, how did you, I guess, navigate that? And I know 2020 was a lot more hectic, but this 2021 graduation offered a little bit more, I wouldn't say stability, but preparation, how you navigated that, on top of, in celebrating for both of those events, monitored any issues or instances of substance misuse for at home celebrations. I feel weird asking about substance misuse when it comes to students and kids, but I know that that's not a topic… That it's real, and especially when they don't have those moments, those occasions to just celebrate happily and healthily with the people who want to celebrate them, that people are left to their own devices. So, I guess I just want to ask you, how did you prepare your students and yourself and your colleagues? 2020 versus 2021, pros and cons? And I guess, how did you monitor making sure that people were taking care of themselves?
I think with 2020, there was so much unknown, right? The pandemic just started in March, graduation is in June, and then it's just like, "Well, we don't know, you may be able to have a graduation. You may be able to have a prom. We don't really know yet." And then it's just there like, "Okay, should I go prom shopping? Should I start picking out my outfit? Should I start planning my graduation party?" And then it's just come May, and just numbers escalating, and it's just like, "Oh, wait, this is not happening. But wait, there's still a little bit of hope." And I know that there were a lot of schools planning alternatives, whether it was a virtual prom, or prom by sections, whether it be certain class grades, or whatever it was that they were planning on doing. And then just abruptly, "I'm sorry, no, it's not going to happen. We're going to…" And then it felt like everything was thrown together last minute, right?
I know schools definitely tried their best. I had youth schools, they did this whole thing out on their lawns, where they posted their pictures, and students were able to drive by. I had other schools that students attended where the school staff would actually come out to the residential and provide them with their diplomas. And that was really nice, because it gave them that sense of, okay, while I'm not having a formal graduation, I know that I'm being celebrated in some way or another, regardless of all the unknowns and uncertainties that was happening at that time. I feel like with 2021, it's like we've been done this, we've been in this for a little over a year, right? And it's sort of expected. The youths know, okay, I'm not having a graduation. And I think that that also deteriorates their motivation a little bit, or kind of brings them down a little bit, because it's just like, "Well, I know this is not happening, there's really no hope for it." But then again, it's like, "Okay, I'm going to be celebrated in one way or another, but it's not what I had in mind. And this is something that we're going to have to continue to go through."
I think that seniors this year, they were probably figuring out, okay, we've been in this pandemic for so long, by the time it's our turn to walk across the stage, this should all be figured out. We should be in the clear. And unfortunately, that's not how it happened. And I think that that, too, a little bit, plays a big role in it, just because, again, it was just so much like everything up in the air, taking it day by day, I think with us, how we… Well, I know how I personally coped with it, it was just one step at a time, right? Because we can't predict the future. We don't know what's going to happen. It's just sort of playing it by ear. And at the same time, just keeping that positivity, keeping that hope, keeping the good vibes, like, "All right, we don't know what's going to happen, but ultimately, something's going to happen, whether it be good or bad." And you just got to make the best of it.
I know I would always have conversations with my youth, and it would be like, "Regardless of the fact if you have a graduation, if you get to go to prom, you're going to be celebrated." I know that in my previous agency, prior to me coming over here, we had a little celebration for the youths, where unfortunately, we weren't able to invite their parents because obviously, we were on a strict quarantine. But the fact that they got celebrated, they got to… We bought them cap and gowns off of Amazon, and they got to wear it and walk around the building. And that made them feel a little bit special. I know here on my current site, they decorated the girls' rooms that were graduating. And that was just beautiful. I know a girl, she graduated in January, and she still has up her decorations, just because it feels good to them. Yes, they're not getting exactly what they want and what they see on TV, or what they hear about constantly about what a graduation should look and feel like, but I guess the fact that they're being acknowledged and recognized and celebrated also really is what matters to them.
I also wanted, just because I know you were mentioning about substance misuse too.
Yeah, it was mostly a segue talking about these different celebrations that they had, or that they don't have, and kind of what they're using in… What they're possibly doing in place of that to feel something and to celebrate. Some people's parents might let them have a taste of a wine cooler at their graduation, or Mike's Hard Lemonade. With them having less in person check ins, less community, in person with friends, as well as mentors and adults like you all, there's only so many ways that someone, student or adult, can really celebrate themselves at home when they're also dealing with a lot of other internal things. That they can celebrate themselves happily and healthily. So, I was just curious if you've also witnessed that, because I think a lot of us have talked about it, and on other platforms as adults, knowing that we've witnessed and we know a lot of people are going through it, and possibly even relapses. But have you noticed any substance misuse, or the beginning of something that could be a problem for some students as they cope with isolation?
In 2020, part of a long series of articles are being published about the way that COVID was impacting people's mental and physical health, there were these articles that were talking about the expected mental health crisis for children and teens, and how this type of quarantine, the stress from the pandemic was also going to lead to increased substance misuse or relapse, and that they're being cut off from appropriate care and support because of quarantine. For my students last year, the conversations were largely around the adjustment to quarantine and the stress that was related to that. Because this type of disengagement from your physical community produces some very unusual experiences and symptoms that affect your ability to take care of yourself. And there were many articles in the beginning of quarantine that was talking about the weird dreams and very vivid dreams that people were having. And that is part of the many strange ways that quarantine and the chronic stress that you experience through the pandemic can affect the body.
For some of the teens that I would work with, I think many of them in the beginning were so focused on just how difficult it was to cope with staying at home all the time, that the conversations about substance use and substance misuse were not always brought up as their priorities, as an issue. Because their problems that were coming up was not just about graduation, but I might be in a home environment that I don't feel safe in. Or I don't feel… I'm missing my friends right now. And some teens I know when I work with, and still work with, I know some have used Juul, and I know that they've said that they've increased their use, and they're trying to cut back. But I know some kids that do use alcohol as a way to cope with some stressors. And part of the family history of alcoholism, there's definitely a certain presence of if you're trying to navigate your own relationship to maybe a certain substance, and then that substance has both a family history, a genetic history in your home environment, and you're constantly exposed to that, it's very difficult to navigate some of these things in a way that you feel productive and safe in.
And for some students, especially now, a year and a half into this remote learning environment, some teens are coming to process their own family histories in relationship to substance use in a very different way, where they're having conversations cognizant of the fact that the ways that some of their families might be relying on it as ways to cope with stress that the pandemic has brought to them, or maybe coping with financial issues that the pandemic has brought on them. And I remember one teen in particular was talking about how his parents' use of alcohol has increased, and it's led him to be concerned about his own relationship with alcohol, and whether or not he might feel like this is a pathway that he's going to end up down. And that's not a very unique conversation. That's something that, I think, has become hard for some folks to avoid when you're always home.
You start to see a lot of the skeletons in the closet come out, and certain conversations that are sometimes unspoken or seriously discouraged from being talked about, they're hard to avoid. And for some teens in those environments, many of them are doing some reflection on what does this mean about me? Or what do I feel about this? And in therapy, that's the space for you to talk about that in depth of, what are you feeling about this? What are your reflections here? Do you feel… What's your understanding of your home life's problems, or the challenges that your parent or parents are facing, or another caregiver is facing? And where do you feel like you're aligned to take care of yourself here? It actually is sometimes some of these conversations are also connected to sometimes living with a parent with mental illness, and a parent experiencing maybe severe symptoms maybe related to like bipolar disorder, and the teen trying to figure out how to navigate maybe a parent experiencing maybe a hypomanic episode, and maybe even having a relationship to substance use while they're going through maybe a certain episode, and try to figure out sometimes taking on roles that are sometimes parentified, and sometimes being a caretaker for those parents.
That's already hard enough when everything's back to quote unquote normal. So, to be quarantined with that… Because also this, again, is quarantine has exacerbated other people's mental health issues. So, to imagine being a kid in that trying to figure out how to dissociate from that while still trying to get through school and this next stage in life, I know that that can be hard. I'm so happy to have you two. I hope there's a million more of you two right now during quarantine helping these students. Yeah, I wanted to know, on the other side of that, what are some self care tips, as well as alternative celebration tips? And some kids didn't finish school, but they still should celebrate making it through the year. And still being here, making it through a global pandemic. Making it through a lot of grief and loss of people that they love, their home life, some friendships, everything. So, what are some alternative tips for self care, as well as celebratory tips that you might have for families at home, as well as some of the students? I know you mentioned that they had a little celebration at the residence that you're at Raysa. But what are some other tips that you might be able to offer? Because there's other health professionals listening to this too, and they could use those as well.
Well, I'm all about self care, and that's something that I try to instill to my clients on a regular basis, is always take care of you first, right? Because you can't pour from an empty glass. We all know that saying. And I always try to tell the girls that I work with, whether it's you making yourself your favorite meal, or buying yourself your favorite meal, getting your hair done, doing your hair yourself, taking a shower, putting on clean clothes, sleeping on clean sheets, little things like that definitely make you feel so much better. Whether it be even misting yourself with your favorite fragrance, and just walking around smelling yourself, something like that, something just to, I don't know, I guess get you going, definitely do it. Self care is always the best care. And however way you want to do it, even walking around the park, getting fresh air, opening your windows, stick your head out the window for a few minutes, and just being mindful of the smells and sounds around you. I think that those are all great skills.
In regards to celebrations, it's difficult to celebrate now, because… I mean, I know now it's a little easier because restrictions are easing. Whether it be like hanging out with your friends in the facility. What we constantly do is certificates and notices of appreciation and stuff like that to these girls. That's very helpful for them. What I like to do myself is I like to write personal letters to my kids like, "This is for you because I've noticed that you've done X, Y and Z. And I see you, and I acknowledge you, and I think you are amazing for that." And just that personalized note to them helps out a lot. When it comes to the graduations, where it's like, okay, you may not be walking across the stage, but walk down the street. Throw on your cap and gown and walk down the street. If your school is not providing you one, we can order one on Amazon. They're extremely cheap. We can do this, walk around the hallways in your cap and gowns, get yourself dressed up, hold mock graduation ceremonies if that's possible. Just something just so that they can feel recognized.
So, there are some reflective questions when trying to talk about this aspect of self care that people can ask to try and launch off into how to modify maybe a self care strategy for them. One is, is the way you're responding to stress now working for you? Do you find it's effective? Do you find it's actually helpful? Or are you noticing that there's areas in the way you're responding to a certain stress that might be really difficult? Another question is, what's the most meaningful thing you can do for yourself today? And that question varies widely because it allows this type of way to just reflect and think a little creatively of, well, it's not just about taking, necessarily tied to take a shower or just get up. Those are conversations that do come up around self care, but part of what's that most meaningful thing you can do for yourself might also be something that puts to task, well, what is a meaningful thing? What is this thing that you can do for yourself that actually helps? What does that look like?
And sometimes, those type of reflective conversations allows people to think a little bit more of just, it isn't just about your daily essentials, maybe it's something else. Maybe it's something else that you want to consider here. And that could be maybe for some people devoting a certain amount of time in the morning to… I know some people who do a little bit of a walk now, just to walk around the park. It's beautiful right now, and they want to do that. For others, it's trying to devote to family time, a structured type of way of just, the most meaningful thing I could do for myself is make sure that at least once a week, I have some time with my family. And we have a family night. And those type of questions can allow people to try and take a step towards this type of practical problem solving that they can look into.
Something else is also this conversation about building a rhythm. In order to regulate yourself and to manage your stress productively, sometimes the conversation of a rhythm is this idea of taking care of your sensory needs, and these very basic needs that have a direct connection to your physical care, and then building it up towards something more and more abstract. So, it's not just sensory needs, then it's about sometimes a conversation about going from that to talking about socializing more. And going into that and talking about boundaries in the work and life balance, which is very difficult right now. And that type of conversation about a rhythm, it's just trying to find an organic flow for you. And there's ways to do that. And I know that at the University of California San Francisco department, I think, they have the neurosequential network, and there's this entire resource through this network that has a lot of ways about taking care of yourself in meaningful ways, and doing these type of reflective exercises to even start to find a launchpad of where your self care begins.
Nicholas, I must say, you are so insightful, and I appreciate all of your comments. I'm just here listening to you and taking mental notes. Amazing.
Honestly, that was a great. Both of you, honestly. I'm like, "Okay, I thought I had my self care on lock, but maybe I need to brush up a little bit." And you're right. I am huge on boundaries. But I express it to so many people that just setting boundaries and finding the way that suits you to communicate them, whether it's work, life, socializing, is one of the most impactful forms of self care that you can have control of, and people don't realize it.
Thank you to our guests, Nicholas Tamborra and Raysa Betances for joining us today. To learn more about their work in Staten Island, check out jewishboard.org. We have a few Staten Island resources. One is Staten Island Partnership for Community Wellness, and the other is Generation NYC, which has information on how to get assistance for college planning, employment, ID cards, financial wellness, housing, counseling, substance misuse and general wellness. So, those are two resources available to people in Staten Island, as well as other New Yorkers.
Lastly, remember that you're not alone. If you or a loved one lives in NYC and needs mental health services and support, call our non-emergency intake line at 1-844-ONE-CALL. That's 1-844-663-2255.