"It's just school," you might think. "It doesn't matter." But it does! In a society where mental health is an unspoken necessity, we can't afford to neglect the well-being of our children. And lest you think these are only issues for kids in lower-income brackets or rural areas, take note: Anxiety and depression have been on the rise among all demographics, but particularly those with college degrees and higher incomes. So read on to see how parents and teachers alike can create opportunities where mental health can be discussed - not ignored.
Over the past two years, our society has experienced many changes and uncertainties. Many people have felt fear about their safety due to COVID 19 pandemic or other reasons. These fears can be debilitating for children as well, who often express anxiety going back into a new teacher's class. Students might have concerns about their ability to keep up with the amount of work, especially if they struggled with distance education. Some students might be concerned about not making their team on sports day because they are slower now due to weight gain from medication side effects. Whatever the reasons are for your child's concern, please do listen seriously without dismissing it.
Some many worries and concerns come with school-related matters. You can help your child by just listening to them, letting them speak without interruption so you can listen carefully and acknowledge their feelings. Simply having someone who cares about what they have to say will make a difference in how safe, understood, or connected they feel! It might also lead to discussing strategies for handling the things that bother them most often at this time of year: health risks from the virus, an increased amount of homework, new teachers coming every few months. The list goes on, really, but we want our kids to be able to talk openly about these issues when it's something important enough for us adults to worry over--whether it's one thing or twenty!!
There are many websites with great information and support for mental health. The National Institute of Mental Health has a variety of materials, including pamphlets and videos, which can be accessed online or in print. They have also compiled a list of crisis numbers by the state should you need immediate help for yourself or someone else who might be affected by mental health challenges.