Back to school stress

As adults, we try to model good physical health practices for our kids. Eat right. Exercise. Brush and floss. Get enough sleep.

One element often missing from the conversation is mental health, and it shouldn’t be.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness recently gathered statistics from several industry surveys and found that 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6 – 17 experience a mental health disorder each year. That number goes up to 1 in 3 between the ages of 18 and 25.

When kids and teens struggle with mental health issues, it impacts their quality of life and overall health in the near and long term. These struggles are often compounded by the extra stress and anxiety accompanying the start of a new school year or the transition to college.

As you help your kids prepare for the next semester, here are some things you can do to help protect their mental health throughout the school year.

  • Talk openly and honestly about mental health. Sharing your own experiences can help normalize the conversation. Click here, or here, for primers from trusted sources on talking to kids about mental health. Make it a regular conversation.
  • Be Involved. Know your kids and their friends, stay aware of their daily activities, and look for opportunities to facilitate healthy decision-making. Look for volunteer opportunities to support them in school.
  • Help Them Find Their People. Look for extracurriculars and organizations filled with like-minded individuals and where your kids will be welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated – not just allowed or tolerated.
  • Make a Connection List. Who are the 3 – 5 people who have been most supportive and there for your kid(s)? Have your child make a list of these heroes and encourage them to reach out to their list when they aren’t feeling at their best and need to talk.
  • Listen. Really listen with curiosity and empathy.

Finally, if your young person is struggling with serious mental issues or if their difficult feelings persist, connect them with professional help.

  • Employee assistance and wellbeing programs like Concern offer counseling support not just for employees but for their families, so, please call us at 800.344.4222, or check with Human Resources about available options.
  • Call your health plan to ask about mental health resources available for your covered dependents.
  • Check with your kids’ school or university as they may have in-house counselors or clinical social workers who can help.

This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace professional advice. If you find your level of stress is impacting your wellbeing, you can contact us for additional help and support. 800.344.4222 or