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5 Things to Know About Back to School & Mental Health
5 Things Parents Need to Know About Back to School & Mental Health
by Marjorie Morrison, CEO & President of Psych Hub
It’s that time of the year again that parents both love and dread. As we begin the back-to-school season, it’s important to pay attention to your child’s mental health just as much as their physical health. As a parent of three, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is to monitor your family’s mental health during this transition. Cyberbullying, suicidality and self-harm are just some of the topics that cause parents concern as the school year begins, and substance use can be connected to all of these.
So what are some things that you should know about back to school and mental health?Psych Hubrecommends you are aware of these five things:
Understand that transitions can be difficult at any age.
Some youth thrive in the face of change but for others, it can be a tricky situation to navigate. Watch for signs of distress in your youth as they transition to a new grade, sport or group of friends. You can help them manage the stress by monitoring mood changes, sleep patterns and watching for signs of isolation. Especially since substance use can be an outlet for many kids, you can encourage healthy coping mechanisms such as maintaining a balanced schedule that includes exercise, nutritious meals and enough sleep, helping them stay connected to positive social supports, and modeling healthy ways to manage stress.
Know the signs of common mental health conditions.
The most common mental health conditions in youth are anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. If you are concerned that your child is experiencing a mental health disorder, it’s helpful to talk it over with a licensed provider and get an evaluation. General symptoms to be aware of include poor school performance or changes in school performance, persistent boredom, frequent physical ailments such as headaches, stomachaches, sleep issues, signs of regression like bed wetting, and even aggressive behaviors.Mental Health America’s Back-to-School Toolkithas a lot of great information about how to recognize common symptoms around anxiety, depression and more. You can also learn more about the connection between mental health and substance use in the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids + Center on Addiction'sGuide to Co-Occurring Disordersdeveloped in collaboration with Child Mind Institute.