A Healthy Start: Navigating Back to School with Mental Well-Being

As the summer days gradually give way to the crisp air of autumn, the back-to-school season emerges as a time of transition, anticipation, and new beginnings. Whether you're a student, a parent, an educator, or someone simply swept up in the spirit of change, this time of year marks a significant juncture.

Beyond the hustle of textbooks and schedules, it's crucial to acknowledge the impact this transition can have on our mental well-being. School is a huge part of a child's life, from friendships to grades, the school environment affects many aspects of mental health.

Here are 3 common school-related mental health concerns and how you can help kids cope:

black boy wearing backpack in science classroom
Loneliness in the Classroom

According to Mental Health America, nearly half of all Americans report feeling alone or left out, and over two-thirds of 11-17-year-olds experience stress over loneliness. There are a number of reasons your child may be feeling lonely in a school setting, including moving to a new district, problems at home, or bullying. Signs of loneliness in younger children may appear by seeking attention through misbehaving, or acting unsure of themselves. Signs of loneliness are more recognizable in adolescents and teens. They may stay in their rooms for long periods of time, appear sad and forlorn, not hang out with friends outside of school, or talk negatively about themselves.

In order to help your child, keep an open and honest dialogue about mental health and emotions to create a safe space for them to express their feelings. Encourage them to try recreational sports or join a club in school. You can also reach out to their teacher to discuss your worries or seek professional help from a therapist.

Stress & Anxiety at School

School and stress often go hand in hand. It's natural to worry about an upcoming test or a homework assignment, but it's not healthy to overly obsess about school stress to the point that it interferes with mental wellbeing. A few simple ways to reduce overall stress is to get enough sleep, eat healthily, exercise daily, carve out time for leisure and relaxation, and developing beneficial coping skills. Check out our article for 7 tips to help calm kids nerves for the start of the school year.

According to Mental Health America's study, the top 5 things that cause stress in 11-17 year old's are getting good grades, preparing for the future, loneliness, body appearance, and juggling priorities. Placing too much pressure on your child to succeed academically can take a severe toll on their mental health. Practice patience and lead by example to model healthy behavior to handle stress.

back to school
Signs of Child & Adolescent Depression

Childhood depression, while a serious concern, is not an insurmountable challenge. It's important to recognize that children and adolescents grappling with depression have the potential to find relief and regain their emotional well-being. By fostering an environment of understanding, open communication, and access to professional support, we can pave the way for these young individuals to overcome their struggles. Some signs to be aware of are:

  • A significant drop in grades
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Anger
  • Changes in eating and sleeping
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Suicidal thoughts

Early detection and intervention is critical to getting appropriate support for your child. Again, it's important to keep the dialogue going about mental illness and emphasize that there is no shame in reaching out for professional help.

Let's make this academic year one of growth, learning, and positive mental health. Here's to embracing the adventure ahead – both in the classroom and within ourselves.

If your child is exhibiting any symptoms of mental health struggles as we head back to school, clinicians in our Counseling & Wellness Centers are here to help.

Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 X9500) for more information or to schedule an appointment.