As the new school year approaches, children and teenagers can experience a range of emotions, from the normal excitement associated with new teachers and activities to more serious or long-term anxiety about school.  Mental Health America, a national advocacy organization that addresses mental health and substance abuse conditions, offers tips to help children and teens adjust as they return to school.  Their suggestions include the following.

  • Know that your child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health.

  • Start the conversation! Talk to your child about your expectations as well as his/her expectations for the upcoming school year. Take time to listen to your child and discuss aspects of the new school year that he or she is worried about.

  • Remember to let your child know that it’s normal to feel nervous about the start of school.

  • Spend time each day talking to your child about what happened in school. Be open to hearing the good and the not so good. Give your child positive feedback about his or her new experiences.

  • Praise and encourage your child to become involved with school activities and to try new things.

  • Attend school functions and stay involved in your child’s education and engaged with school staff.

  • Be proactive in learning about how your child is developing not just physically, but socially and emotionally, as well. If you are aware of what’s typical for your child's stage of life, you will be able to tell more readily when things may not be right.

  • Know the signs of bullying.

For the full story or to locate additional resources for a healthy back-to-school season, visit the Mental Health America Web site.