Students’ stress levels may be higher than normal as school starts

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 7:44 PM EDT
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Returning to school is a stressful time for some students, but this year may be especially stressful, amid concerns over Covid-19. In this week's Medical Monday, Kathy McCarty has more on what parents should watch for and how they can help their children cope as they return to traditional classes.

Going back to school is a gray area this year, with staff and parents uncertain how the year will play out. Leane Saucier is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner with A.R. Gould Hospital. She says it’s best to expect changes as the school year progresses.

“I think it’s important that parents get ready for change and - and know that that may change. I think it will be difficult for them to accommodate all of these strict regulations in the space that they have,” says Leane Saucier.

Tension may be running higher for many youth, especially older students, as they navigate a strange educational environment, with masks and social distancing.

She says “I think it’s important for parents to be aware of their kids, if there’s any new behaviors or any changes in their mood or any changes at all - just to be kind of, like, tuned in and keying into that. Ask them how they’re doing, encourage them to express their feelings, and just be there to support them.”

Saucier, a mother herself, says parents can serve as a sort of safety net, making home a place of reassurance after a stressful day at school. She says parents can help reduce anxiety in children by supporting school guidelines when it comes to seating, masks and other protocol.

“The kids really - they have a big hurdle to accomplish this year, and any support that we can give them and just always being there, making sure that those kids with the fear - especially those with a fear of getting the Covid - for parents to ‘everything’s OK, everything’s gonna be OK ’ - and just be that person to make sure that they have a constant and a security,” says Saucier.

Saucier says an open line of communication between schools, parents and, subsequently, their children, is one of the best methods of helping kids deal with stress. Encouraging children to talk with their doctors about their concerns during the pandemic can also be beneficial.

Kathy McCarty, NewsSource 8

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