After more than a year of dealing with uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents and children are looking for a return to normalcy with the new school year. However, it is important to prepare yourself and your children for the stresses of school and soothe the lingering anxiety of returning to the classroom.
Both parents and children should focus on ways to relieve mental stress so that the new year, which could still include some pandemic-related restrictions, is easier to handle. It is important for parents to remember that one in six children are diagnosed with a mental health disorder but nearly 50 percent will not receive treatment.
Taking steps to prepare yourself and your child for seeking assistance with a mental health diagnosis and treatment is the best thing you can do for your child and their future.
Build relationships with your child’s teachers
Teachers see your children away from home where mental health problems might be more prominent. A great way to check in with your child’s wellbeing is by having a strong relationship with teachers they like and trust. Teachers and other school staff can also connect you to local mental health resources, such as Valley Oaks Health’s children’s counseling program, to get your child the support they need.
Create a safe space for your child to talk about their feelings
One barrier that stops parents and children from addressing mental health issues is stigma. Doing research about childhood and mental health can prepare you to have the necessary conversation with your child about their own mental health. Give your child the reassurance that their feelings are normal and that, together, you can overcome any problem that comes your way.
Take issues like bullying, thoughts of suicide seriously
Teens can be dramatic; they’re dealing with the onslaught of hormones and trying to fit in with their peers. But the onset of mental health issues can begin around the same time. These are conditions that they can carry with them into adulthood and should be addressed like any other health issue.
Further, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10-34. If you are concerned for their safety, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
Children go through many changes during adolescence and begin to experience the world outside of their family by attending school. Helping your children through tough times and preparing them for honest discussions about mental health are key to a healthy relationship with your child, especially during uncertain times.
Valley Oaks Health is here for moms, dads, and kids when you need extra parenting support. You are not alone on your parenting journey; we can help.