Starting a new school year is an exciting time but can also be a stressful one. Preparing for a new grade level, joining a new classroom and making new friends can cause feelings of anxiety and fear. This year adds COVID-19 to the mix, as children and youth face challenges such as physical distancing in schools and virtual learning.
That’s why it is important that as a parent, teacher, or caregiver, you are prepared to support the youth around you as they begin the next school year.
Use these tips from the Youth Mental Health First Aid Curriculum to help young people take care of their mental health when going back to school.
- Ask how they’re doing. Youth may hesitate to initiate a conversation about their worries and concerns. Check in with them and encourage them to share how they feel. When having this conversation, it’s important to listen nonjudgmentally so the young person understands they can talk freely about their problems and feelings.
- Give reassurance. Provide emotional support and understanding, empathize with how the young person feels and voice hope. Remind them that you and those around you are taking steps to be prepared and safe.
- Provide practical help. Helping with daily tasks can help a young person feel more prepared and secure. This can include helping to pack their bag the night before school, preparing lunches together, and talking through the next day’s schedule.
- Develop a routine. Try to establish a school-day routine to help your child adjust to waking up early and going to bed on time. If you’re teaching, in a virtual or physical classroom, help your students establish a daily routine as well so they know what to expect.
- Be a role model. If, despite the many unknowns, you appear calm and confident about the upcoming school year, your kids will too. Use these self-care strategies to take care of your own mental health so you can be the best role model for the youth around you.
For more information on how to support young people, please visit these resources:
- Five Ways to Manage Your Back-to-School Mental Health
- Tips to Help Children and Youth Take Care of Their Mental Health During COVID-19
- Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19
If you are worried that your child may be experiencing overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depression, consider reaching out to a primary care physician or mental health professional for additional information and support.
Learn more about how you can #BeTheDifference with Youth Mental Health First Aid.