The past few years brought many changes and challenges, all of which impacted students’ mental health. A new school year brings opportunities and hope. As children return to classrooms this fall, set them up for success with these strategies.
Connect with School Officials
Consider teachers and school counselors as partners. Talk with them about your child’s academic and emotional needs. Check in periodically with your child’s teachers to see how they are doing at school academically and socially.
Let them know about major life changes, such as a death or divorce in your family. They can provide appropriate support or accommodations, such as reduced workloads or counseling resources.
Identify Trusted Adults
Students with at least one trusted adult at school are more resilient and have a stronger sense of well-being, according to several studies. Ask your child who their trusted adults are at school. Perhaps it is a favorite teacher, librarian, lunch aide, or school nurse. If your student has trouble identifying a trusted adult, talk with their guidance counselor.
Lean on Routines
Knowing what to expect can ease children’s minds. Keeping bedtime, mealtimes, and other daily routines creates consistency. Including time for fresh air, exercise, play, and quiet time is essential for all ages.
As often as you can, sit down to a family meal. Eating and talking together boosts mental health and well-being. Plus, shared meals usually include more nutritious foods.
When your child does not get enough sleep, it can contribute to behavior and health issues, including difficulty concentrating and depression. To promote healthy sleep, consider turning off screens at least one hour before bedtime and keep devices out of the bedroom. Some families have a charging station in the kitchen for use overnight.
Watch for Warning Signs
Signs your child or teen is struggling include prolonged sadness, intense fears or worries, significant personality shifts, and substance use. Reach out to their pediatrician or a mental health provider if you notice these changes or any behaviors that concern you.
Social media posts about self-harm or violence are red flags, too. If you think your child is in danger of hurting themselves or others, dial 911. You can also call or text 988 to connect with trained counselors at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
2022 Youth Risk Behavior Survey Results
Caring for our community is core to our mission. Recently, Emerson completed its 14th Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). Nearly 8,000 middle and high school students from 10 area school districts completed the YRBS in spring 2022. For survey results and ways some local schools support students’ mental health, visit emersonhealth.org/yrbs.
Our Health Works Here podcast has done a series on helping children with their digital wellness. Listen below.
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