Back to School!
As the summer winds down, children and youth across the nation are returning to in-person learning for this school year. While the back-to-school season can bring a few jitters for most children, some experience increased anxiety and other mental health challenges. Children and youth may struggle to connect after COVID-19 restrictions, face increased peer pressure with social media and so much more.
Here we share what could be behind that anxiety and strategies parents and caregivers can use to help children have a great start to the school year.
Impact on our Children
There is no doubt there is a mental health crisis on the rise for children and youth. Understanding the factors in play can help parents and guardians get the help they need for children and youth. Being aware of the factors can help you identify areas where your child may struggle. Here are some of the ways going back to school can affect our youth:
- BACK TO SCHOOL: Many children may experience anxiety returning to in-person learning after virtual learning. This may be a result of an unfamiliar environment, a new school or feeling unsafe in a campus environment.
- BULLYING: Returning to school may bring children in contact with bullies.
- LONELINESS: Children and youth may experience loneliness or have difficulties making social connections.
- PERFORMANCE ANXIETY: Many children and youth may feel the pressure to perform well academically or athletically, and this pressure may trigger mental health issues.
- ADJUSTMENT: Children and youth may experience anxiety, depression or other mental health challenges transitioning from a summer schedule back to a school schedule.
What to Watch For
If your child or youth is affected by one of the many factors that can influence their mental health, it is important to notice the warning signs that accompany a mental health crisis.
- GRADE PERFORMANCE: a normally well-performing student’s grades dropping may indicate a struggle with the material, a mental health struggle or other issue.
- DISINTEREREST IN SPORTS AND HOBBIES: A student who suddenly loses interest in sports or hobbies may be struggling with mental health issues.
- CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR: A child or youth who shows a dramatic change in their sleep schedule or appetite could be struggling.
- DISINTEREST IN RELATIONSHIPS: A child or youth who becomes distant from family and friends may be struggling.
- ADDITIONAL STRANGE BEHAVIOR: A child or youth who exhibits uncharacteristic behavior, such as experiencing the symptoms of a mental health crisis, may be in need of help.
How to Support Kids
Schools play an important role in a child’s development. School is a source of inspiration for nurturing a child’s natural interests, making friends and learning. Teachers can be among the first to recognize the warning signs of a mental health issue, provide mentorship and guidance and take action against bullying. But once your child or youth leaves campus it is important to do the following:
- CONVERSATION: Talk to your child frequently. Having a conversation to talk through worries, concerns and questions can be a good first step. Engaging with your child encourages trust, strengthens your relationship and helps you get in front of issues such as bullying that may affect your child’s mental health.
- RESOURCES: Check if your child’s school has mental health resources, such as a mental health professional, that your child can trust during school hours.
- EDUCATION: Increasing your knowledge about mental health issues, how to approach them with your child and having resources to reach out to a mental health professional if needed will help you and your family.
- GET INVOLVED: Get involved with your child’s school through parent-teacher conferences, volunteering, and attending school events.
- SEEK HELP: If you are continuing to see anxiety or depression affect your child as the school year goes on, seek professional help.
Our youth shouldn’t have to suffer alone. Going back to school should not be a trigger or cause of mental health issues. School should be a place of learning, connecting with friends and enjoying sports and hobbies. Only together as a community can we decrease the mental health issues our youth.
If you observe signs and symptoms of a mental health struggle in your child or teen, call our admissions team today for a free and confidential screening at (805) 366-4000. Camino a Casa offers mental health services at all levels of care – we’ll work together to find the right option for you.
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