Going back to school can be an exciting time, but it can also be stressful, especially for students who may have experienced bullying, anxiety, depression or trauma. Now more than ever students are coping with intense experiences including school shootings, natural disasters and heightened political and social tensions.  

Whether you are a parent, family member or friend, helping the student in your life cope with stressors can give them the extra support they need to have a successful school year. Explore the tips below to help students through the challenging back-to-school period.  

  • Understand symptoms/warning signs. Some kids may feel going back to school can worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress. Be aware of symptoms such as stomachaches, having trouble sleeping and irritability. These can be signs your child may be struggling. Knowing what to look out for and communicating with your child about how they feel can prevent a mental health concern from worsening. Need a little help identifying symptoms? Have your child take the Mental Health Navigator survey to see what might be causing a concern. 
  • Identify coping skills. Understanding how to best support your child also means knowing how they cope with difficult situations. Ask questions like, “What has worked in the past to help you feel better in coping with emotional and mental distress? What made things worse? What can you do to avoid it?” Asking such questions can help better prepare your child for stressful times ahead.  
  • Get educated. There are many mental health resources and educational materials online. In addition to finding resources through your employee assistance program, you can also learn more from the National Alliance on Mental Illness,  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, National Institute of Mental HealthMental Health AmericaSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and National Eating Disorders Association.  
  • Reboot healthy habits. Establishing healthy habits such as a regular sleep schedule, eating a variety of foods and getting enough exercise can provide a sense of consistency and calm during more turbulent times. When your student practices healthy habits, this can also increase energy levels, boost their mood and improve their overall wellbeing.  
  • Reach out. Encourage your child to reach out when things get tough. If communicating with you as a parent is too difficult, then urge them to speak with a friend, a counselor, a coach or someone they can trust. It can also be helpful to join extracurricular activities, which can help boost self-esteem, introduce new skills and heighten their sense of belonging.  

The transition between summer and school can be stressful for everyone involved. If the upcoming school year is causing your student stress, contact SupportLinc by calling 888-881-5462 to speak with a licensed mental health counselor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  

Source: SupportLinc EAP