WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association has relaunched a collaboration with Microsoft to hold a series of lessons that will bring psychologists into elementary and secondary school classrooms via Skype. APA’s “Let’s Talk about Mental Health” initiative is part of the Skype in the Classroom program, a platform used by educators to learn from each other through the online world.
APA also has made supplemental resources available to teachers who may be looking to use materials to prepare students for a Skype session or to expand on mental health education outside of the lesson.
Skype in the Classroom is a free educational program that aims to remove geographic and economic boundaries to education through the innovative use of technology in a classroom environment. The APA program allows students to interact with psychologists to learn about mental health issues and overcome any stigma they may associate with seeking mental health care. The APA program first began in 2014 and over 220 individual lessons were held during the initial year.
“We are excited to begin this program again after a brief hiatus. This collaboration has enabled APA to help students better understand mental and emotional health,” said APA Executive Director of Education Jaime Diaz-Granados, PhD. “We also hope it helps reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.”
Approximately 20 APA members have volunteered as presenters for the program. The psychologists and teachers work together to schedule 50-minute presentations about anger and anxiety, depression, and resilience. During the scheduled lesson, the psychologist guest speaker presents to the classroom via Skype using materials provided by APA. Each lesson includes time for Q&A with students. All presenters are licensed psychologists and are experienced clinicians actively participating in programs to educate the public about mental health issues.
“I enjoy interacting with teachers and students in their environment,” said Mary Alvord, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Rockville, Maryland, who has been participating as a Skype in the Classroom expert since it was initiated in 2014. “It’s been really gratifying to see so many students opening up about the stressors in their lives and be able to hear their peers echoing many of the same stressors. It normalizes those feelings for them.”
For older students, the lessons will also include when and how to access mental health services — within their school or community — if they, or a member of their family, could benefit from such support.
Educators and psychologists who are interested in learning more about the APA program or volunteering to be an expert can get more information on the APA and Skype in the Classroom webpage.
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.
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