Another Back to School Season During the Pandemic

 In Colorado Spirit

Welcome to the Weekly Well-Being Connection! Each week we will share advice from our clinical experts on ways to care for your mental health and well-being throughout COVID-19. 

Many of us on the Colorado Spirit Team at AllHealth Network are parents, which means our radar is high for the unofficial end of summer: Back to School! Pandemic or not, anyone with kids will tell you this can be a stressful time. Between the urge many of us might feel to squeeze in every last drop of summer fun to the stress of changing schedules and multiple unknowns, this is a time of adjustment for families! While many of our back-to-school routines might feel a bit closer to “normal” than last year, we know there is still a bit of uncertainty in our world and that supporting the kids and teens in our lives as they transition back to school is crucial.

Today we offer a few things to consider as we enter this next season and face continued uncertainty.

Support kids with “typical” return to school stressors. No matter what grade folks are entering, they might experience feelings of stress around getting good grades, preparing for the future (especially our high school and college students), or returning to a more structured schedule. As adults, being on the lookout for signs of stress and helping kids and teens manage this stress goes a long way. Mental Health America offers this great resource that outlines both signs of stress in youth and how we adults can help them manage stress.

Talk with your kids and teens about how they are feeling about returning to school. Just like before the pandemic, some will be excited and others will dread it. As a parent, I know I have a hard time staying away from “convincing mode.” We all know that way we have of trying to point out the bright side or remind kids about what they might like about school. While sometimes giving kids a pep talk is helpful, most of the time, they need us to listen without judging them or trying to “fix” things. Talking to kids with an open ear and asking them how you can best support them is typically a good place to start.

Help kids start getting back into a routine a little bit before classes start back up. Even if we had some structure over the summer, everyone’s schedule is likely to change a little bit when school begins. Preparing for those changes and getting back into the routine of consistent bedtime, wake-up time, and morning routines in advance will help us all feel more settled on the 1st day of school.

Check in with yourself. How do you feel about the transition to school? Are there things that would support you? As we often say, one of the most effective ways to support youth is doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves. So, as you think about back-to-school season, don’t forget yourself.

We know there is not a one-size fits all strategy to support our youth with more transitions, so we also invite you to join two of our counselors, Sara Harris, LSW, and Melissa Harris, MA, for a live Zoom discussion about this topic. See here for dates and for information about how to sign up. They have some more tips to share and are happy to discuss questions that come up.

If speaking to someone would help, please reach out. AllHealth Network provides several supports.

  • To speak with someone in the Colorado Spirit Program about stress related to the pandemic, please call 720-707-6789 or visit our webpage at allhealthnetwork.org/Colorado-Spirit
  • For information about other services at AllHealth Network or to get connected with ongoing behavioral health support, please call 303-730-8858. AllHealth Network is continuing to provide service via telehealth or by phone and our Crisis Walk-in Center remains open 24/7.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis and are in need of immediate assistance, please call the Colorado Crisis Hotline at 1-844-493-8255 (TALK) or text TALK to 38255.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook to receive information about our free groups and get notifications when we post coping tips, mindfulness suggestions, and more.

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