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News and Opinion Mar 16, 2021

KQED MindShift Quotes Pamela Cantor, M.D. on How to Help Grieving Students

Photo credit: MindShift

MindShift, a multimedia production of San Francisco NPR affiliate KQED News, quoted Turnaround for Children Founder and Senior Science Advisor Pamela Cantor, M.D. in an article on student grief.

Why Helping Grieving Students Heal Matters So Much,” written by Kara Newhouse, explores how educators can support students who have experienced loss and undue stress due to COVID-19.

The article includes several insights from Cantor on the impact of stress on the brain, and what can be done to help:

The conflict between physical distancing and the human need for connection is one of the great challenges of the pandemic, according to Dr. Pamela Cantor, a child and adolescent psychiatrist. Cantor is the founder of Turnaround for Children, a nonprofit that translates developmental science into resources for educators.

Stress caused by loss of a loved one or even the loss of daily routines can trigger a hormone called cortisol, Cantor explained. When stress is chronic, cortisol can do long-term harm to bodily systems, including those associated with learning. But Cantor said that another hormone, oxytocin, can have a countering effect on the same systems.

And what triggers oxytocin?

Human relationships. In particular, relationships that are full of love, trust, attachment and safety. That’s why, Cantor said, educational settings that put connection at the center are the most successful.

Read the full article here.