As students and parents prepare for back-to school-season amid a global pandemic, CMHA Brant Haldimand Norfolk is reminding everyone to keep mental health in mind during these unprecedented times. Students and parents are facing new challenges this school year due to COVID-19. Whether students take classes online or in class, the pressures remain the same.
Supporting mental health and wellness during the return to school: Tips for parents and families
Download our tip sheet for a printable copy of this information.
Going back to school after a summer break can be an adjustment, even under normal circumstances. This year brings additional challenges and stress because of COVID-19. It’s important to acknowledge that returning to school will look and feel quite different this year, whether it’s in-person learning, remote learning or a combination of both. You can help your children to know what to expect, be flexible when things are uncertain, and feel confident about the return to school.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in unique and varied ways. Many families have experienced financial, employment, social and health challenges. Some have experienced significant disruptions and losses.
We have also all witnessed inequities, systemic prejudice and the impact of anti-Black racism in our society during this time. For some, this has been very personal and painful. Children and youth are all returning to school with their own COVID-19 story.
The challenges that students have experienced may be associated with feelings of anxiety. This is a natural response. Anxiety can show up in different ways. Your child may tell you that they are feeling fearful or overwhelmed. Or, you might notice things like frequent headaches,
trouble sleeping, irritability or emotional outbursts. Your child might seem withdrawn, or overly tired or restless. Being watchful for signs of anxiety can help you to provide support early, before the problem worsens.
There are two main ways we can help young people who are experiencing stress:
- help them to find ways to cope with feelings of anxiety
- find ways to help reduce the stress itself
Not all stress can be avoided, but sometimes we can reduce it. Having tools and strategies ready to cope with stress is important, so that we and our children can be less negatively affected. For more tips visit School Mental Health Ontario.
CMHA suggests maintaining positive mental health with the following strategies:
- Take care of your body. Mental and physical health are fundamentally linked. Make sure to get enough sleep, drink water, and eat well.
- Build resiliency. Set aside time to think about the resiliency tools available to you, such as structured problem-solving skills or people who can help you during difficult situations.
- Reach out for support. Social support is an important part of mental health. People in our networks can offer emotional support, practical help, and alternate points of view. Contact our branch for mental health support in your community.
Mental health supports for everyone, including children and youth, are also available. Here are a few organizations and online resources to consider to consider:
Centre for Innovation in Campus Mental Health – CICMH has compiled an orientation package of campus mental health resources available across the province. Resources include Loss and Grief During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Graduate Student Mental Health Toolkit.
A free, guided self-help program that’s effective in helping people aged 15 and up who are experiencing mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression, or may be feeling low, stressed, worried, irritable or angry.
Children’s Mental Health Ontario Centres 100 member organizations operating in every region in Ontario, providing treatment and support to children, youth and families. Free. No referral required. Back to School Kit