How Parents Can Support Their Child’s Mental Health Back to School
Coming out of the pandemic, mental health experts say children are suffering from depression and anxiety at an alarming rate.
NORTH BERWICK, ME — The countdown to when kids are back in school begins, and with it comes anxiety.
One in six children in Maine is experiencing unprecedented levels of anxiety and depression, according to the latest Kids Count Survey.
During the pandemic, the U.S. CDC reports that one-third of high school students nationwide are experiencing “deteriorating mental health.”
Sweetser social worker Emily Coslow, who works at Noble High School, says it’s more important than ever to focus on children’s mental health.
“If you think about the last few years, students who were in school suddenly dropped out and had to come back in strange ways,” Coslow said. “It’s really hard to shift, especially for kids with anxiety. You anticipate everything that might be difficult or you don’t want to be there at all.”
costrow is Tips to help children and teenagers prepare to return to class.
Start adjusting your schedule
From sleeping to eating and everything in between, get your child to start making small adjustments to get them used to their new routine.
“It’s kind of taking shape,” Kostrow said.
find something fun
Discuss with your teenager any fun things they might experience in the upcoming school year. It can be sports, music, or clubbing. Even getting used to the class schedule and the teachers they look forward to.
Costrow says it’s better to simply focus on the positive.
“Our brains naturally think the worst first, so we’re looking for the really good,” she said. I know what kind of activities will be resumed.Start really focusing on liking school.”
back to school shopping
yes. For real. This is part of the practice of positive thinking. And you don’t have to go all out. Even just a few new things that create excitement can make a big difference.
“There’s something fun about going back to school. Go ahead and do your school shopping and get yourself a new backpack,” Coslow said. We have a lot of equipment available.”
Many parents may want to have difficult conversations with their teens, especially if they’re struggling with mental health, and Costrow says now may not be the best time.
Find the good points instead.Don’t dwell on what they fear, focus on what they fear can do to succeed.
“The difference is thinking about it and being prepared for it,” Kostrow said.
According to the organization, Coslow is one of about 50 school-based clinicians with Sweeter in schools statewide from Kittery to Bangor.
She says there are not enough providers to meet the growing demand. For agency details, please visit sweetser.org.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please call the Maine Crisis Hotline: 1-888-568-1112.