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Back to School: Tips on Staying Mentally Well

Mental health conditions are becoming more prevalent among our youth, and the CDC reports that one in three high school students experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. This is an alarming 40% increase from youth mental health trends in 2009.

Most adults will assume that youth is filled with innocence and joy. Unfortunately, the CDC points out that the reality for many adolescents is poor mental health due to struggles with their health, decision-making, and experiences in school.

With students going back to school, it’s crucial that they learn how to protect their mental well-being as they navigate through tough times. Here are some strategies for staying mentally well in school:

Learn how to use your screen time wisely

Persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness are considered symptoms of depression, which is why it’s becoming alarming that more students are experiencing these painful emotions.

Although this mood disorder can stem from various factors, Deanna Barch of Washington University-St. Louis discovered that prolonged electronic media use is strongly associated with depression and anxiety. The researchers acknowledge that screen time can have benefits, but it can induce depression and anxiety if it’s used as a coping mechanism or a distraction. As such, it’s recommended that you manage your screen time so that you can make room for your studies and other preferred wellness activities.

Balance your tasks by sticking to a routine

Feelings of stress and anxiety can overwhelm students, especially if they’re balancing numerous tasks all at once.

In fact, psychologist Rachel Goldman from the NYU School of Medicine explains that you are more likely to think about stressful situations when you don’t have a proper routine in place. Having a routine or a structure may seem boring, but Goldman states that they can actually help you form good daily habits and feel more focused on your tasks. So during the first few weeks of school, structure a proper routine for your academic and personal tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Get in touch with a professional who can support you

It can be difficult to carry your worries and emotions by yourself. So when school and life gets extra stressful, try to reach out to professionals who can help you.

If you’re ready to reach out for help, our article on ‘Mental Health Resources for Teens and College Students’ points out that you can achieve healing through holistic treatments. You can consider solutions like college counseling, educational therapy, and behavioral interventions, which can help you address your worries with the support of a mental health expert.

Additionally, with the growing need for accessible mental health services, telehealth platform Wheel notes that more therapists are interested in offering their mental health care services online. Therapists can conduct video conferencing for students who want a more personal approach, or even virtual messaging therapy services for those who may be socially anxious. Just make sure that you have consent from your parents for these online treatments, so that you can access professional mental healthcare from the comforts of your own home.

Find a mindfulness technique that works for you

Anxiety disorder is another common mental health disorder, and this can manifest through uncontrollable feelings of worry and restlessness.

Our article entitled ‘Mindfulness Helps Kids Cope’ shows that students as young as twelve years old can learn how to manage stress, anger, and overwhelming emotions through mindfulness. You can also learn how to achieve this over time by practicing meditation, counting to ten, or simply taking deep breaths. Try joining online mindfulness classes so that you can get guidance on how to slow down your breathing, soothe your nervous system and let go of your worries about school and life.

Academic, social, and family struggles can come up in school, and they can make it difficult to go back to class. Through the above tips, you can learn how to manage your thoughts and emotions as you prepare yourself for the next school year and the rest of your life ahead of you.

Specially penned for Aspiring Families, Center for Mental Health and Wellness

by Helaine Asher