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Back-to-School: 5 Ways to Get Students Prepared for a Mentally Strong School Year

As summer comes to an end, so do the routines that students picked up during the break. That means no more sleeping in late or hanging out with friends all day, but back to setting the alarms for early morning hours and getting back into the school routine. These changes in day-to-day activities can bring on emotional changes in students such as anxiety, stress, and worry. They can make going back to school challenging for some students, especially if they are going to a new school, having a new teacher, going into a new grade, or even having to make new friends. In addition, students may be feeling additional stress due to fears about gun violence, global conflicts, or concerns about bullying or other self-image issues. It’s important for parents and adults to recognize when their student might be suffering from these new emotions and help support them through their new transition.

According to Uprise Health, here are 5 back-to-school tips to help your student have a mentally strong first day back at school:

  1. Get a Head Start on the New Routine
    During summer vacation, students normally have different sleeping habits and are used to sleeping longer hours, a drastic change from their normal routine that they have during the school year. Start getting your student back to a normal routine a couple weeks before school starts to get into the habit of waking up earlier and going to bed at a regular time. This may help them feel less anxious doing it the night before school starts and feel more prepared to take on the first day!
  2. Check Out the School Beforehand
    Whether your student is going to a new school or not, it can be helpful to take them to campus before the first day and map out the route to their new classroom, lunchroom, library and more! Contact the school ahead of the first day and see if you can schedule a tour for your student before their first day. This can help set up the student for success before the first day of class by addressing the anxiety and worry that comes with not knowing where to go when they hear that first bell.
  3. Have Regular Hangouts with Friends Outside of School
    When school is back in session, it can be harder to get together with friends outside of the classroom. This can make students feel anxious about going back to school and not knowing the next time they will be able to see their friends. Help them get ahead of those feelings and host a back-to-school get together with new and familiar friends to help them get acclimated to the new school year!
  4. Establish Emotional Coping Skills
    Teaching your student to talk about their emotions and creating a safe space for them to do so can help them process the anxious, stressed, or worried feelings they might have about being back in school. Providing them with ways to process their emotions and recognize what they are feeling can help improve your student’s coping skills and help them focus on the positives about the day.  If you don’t know where to begin the conversation, use one of our conversation starters here to talk to your student about their mental health, and by doing so, you can help to reduce stigma around mental illness in your child’s school community.
  5. Support Your Student’s Mental Health
    With youth facing more mental health challenges, it has never been so important for parents to support and understand their students. Talking to them about how they are feeling and letting them know that it is normal to feel anxious, stressed, or worried when starting something new can make the world of difference in their mental health journey.

The stigma and fear around mental health often prevents people from reaching out for help. You can help reduce stigma by educating yourself and your students to ensure that they are equipped to have a mentally strong school year and beyond! For more information on additional resources on youth mental health visit our Transition Age Youth community page, here.

Everyone has the power to stop the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness in their communities. We encourage youth to share their stories to encourage others their age by joining the “Mental Illness: It’s not always what you think” project’s Stop Stigma Sacramento Speakers Bureau and promote positive attitudes about living with mental illness. For more information on how to become a speaker or how to be involved in the program, view our webpage here.