TEMPLE, Texas — Roughly 100 school nurses from all over the state of Texas gathered at the Mayborn Convention Center in Temple for the annual McLane's Children's School Nurse Conference.
With the pandemic affecting so many students mental health, nurses learned about signs to look for and how to help.
"COVID-19 has really brought in the mental health aspect," Manager of Nursing Professional Development Taylor Williams said. "Often times we thought of mental health as being a concern in our older population of children, but we are seeing mental health in younger populations as well. That is definitely a topic we recognize is more important this year than ever."
Mental health awareness has also been front and center in schools following the recent events in Uvalde.
"Learning about the mental health concerns and that's one of our presentations is important because we do want to recognize those in our students to get them help sooner," Williams said.
Nurses also went through a 'Stop the Bleed' training because they are often the first responders during an emergency.
"We really empowered school nurses to learn it themselves if they hadn't, but also it's a program you can take back and teach to teachers, to teach to teenagers so that in the event there is something in your school your prepared to save as many lives as possible," Williams said.
As they learned how to best take care of their students, Dr. Patricia Sulack, founder of Living Well Aware, also had a chance to talk with nurses about taking care of themselves.
"We can do a good job of taking care of everyone else, but we're not taking care of ourselves," Dr. Sulack said. "And guess what? We can't maximumly take care of others if we haven't taken care of ourselves."
Dr. Sulak stressed the importance of nurses focusing on their own mental health as well as their students.
"Spending time taking care of ourselves is not selfish, it's a requirement," she said. "If we really want to help other people, if we really want to be productive, creative, have an amazing life and help others have an amazing lives, the first person we need to take care of is ourselves."
For nurses who missed the conference in person, it will be posted in full on their website in July.