Helping your student with back-to-school mental health

Back to School

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Back-to-school season can lead to an increase of stress for students, but there are effective ways to reduce stressors. A local expert said preparing for the transition is one of the best ways to reduce stress.

“Back to school is always an exciting and yet anxious time for their parents because routines have to shift, bedtimes have to change, homework has to be considered,” said Dr. Susan McDaniel, URMC Director of the Institute for the Family in the Department of Psychiatry.

Many students have been out of the classroom for up to 18 months, so the transition back to in-person learning can be especially challenging for them.

“It’s a whole new mindset for parents and children coming off of summer. And yet this year is all that and so much more given all that we’ve been through,” said Dr. McDaniel

Students have many additional stressors coming into this school year in particular. Dr. McDaniel said having set ways for students to communicate their stresses will greatly help.

“Reassure [your children] that they have the ability to cope and can identify people they can talk to: their teachers, their school counselor, a trusted adult who they can talk to if they are having difficulty.”

For long-term, larger concerns of students like COVID-19 spread, school shootings, and climate change, Dr. McDaniel said one of the best ways is through supporting students through ways that they can make change.

“Helping them feel, even in very large issues, like they can make a difference through what they do,” said Dr. McDaniel.

In terms of long-term resilience for mental health, Dr. McDaniel said the best thing is maintaining good physical health.

“Paying attention to sleeping and eating, and taking good physical care of yourself can really help with being able to regulate scary emotions,” said Dr. McDaniel.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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