Supporting a Mentally Healthy School Start
Dear families, caregivers and beyond,
Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year. We are happy to see all of you! We acknowledge that many different feelings and emotions accompany the start of a new school year for students, parents, educators, and the communities that support them. From excitement to nervousness, anxiety to joy and everything in between. Whatever feelings and emotions accompany your child(ren) or family, know they are valid, important and okay.
Our September Student Mental Health and Addictions Newsletter focuses on a mentally healthy start to the school year. A mentally healthy start to the school year may encompass something different for each child and family, honouring that we all experience and support our mental health and well-being differently.
School Mental Health Ontario invites parents and caregivers to consider the following tips to support a Mentally Healthy Back to School. Whether your child(ren) is attending virtually or in person, the following tips may be helpful.
Take care of yourself, so you can be your best to support your child(ren)
Do One Small Thing each day that brings you joy and helps you to feel well and happy. Taking care of your health and well-being is a powerful tool to support your child(ren) and model how to support and maintain positive Mental Health.
Talk to your child about how school is going
Ongoing conversations about school, individual classes and the overall school experience are important. How a child feels on the first day of school may differ from how they feel on the 30th or 100th. Encouraging children to share their experiences creates opportunities for them to share moments of joy and accomplishments. As well as any challenges they may be experiencing.
These prompts may help start or continue the conversation:
- What is something(s) you hope to do during the school year or feel excited about?
- What is something(s) that brings you joy at school?
- Have you had experiences that make you feel unhappy or uncomfortable at school?
- Is there anything you feel worried or anxious about?
- Do you feel supported at school?
- Is there anything I can do to help you feel more confident, comfortable and supported at school?
Pay attention to stress levels
We each manage and respond to stress differently. What signs do you notice when your child(ren) is stressed? Pay attention to these signs and support your child(ren) in using healthy responses and coping tools to manage stress. Try these activities from School Mental Health Ontario at home to help your child(ren) learn to understand and manage stress.
Empower your child to self-advocate
Children spend most of their waking hours at school. School needs to be a place where they find comfort and joy beyond learning. At times this is not always the case. It is important that young people know where to turn and what they need in challenging moments or situations. Exploring the following questions with your child may help build self-advocacy skills that can aid them throughout the school year and beyond:
- What helps you feel relaxed and calm in stressful or challenging situations & how do you ask for these things?
- What do you need to be successful this school year, in a particular class or situation?
- Who are your caring people (adults and friends) at school, home, and community?
- Who do you turn to when you are feeling stressed or need help?
- How do you ask for help/ support?
For some children, it may be important to practice how to ask for help so that they build confidence and comfort around help-seeking when needed. Let children know that There’s No Problem Too Big Or Too Small to reach out and ask for help.
When students feel supported and cared for by those around them, it can allow them to open up to new opportunities and learning. We are better together. Looking forward to a year of learning, discovery, and joy alongside you.
- YRDSB Mental Health Resource Page
- Child Mental Health Resources In York Region
- SMHO Parent/Family Page
Upcoming External Workshops
- Understanding ASD Learning Styles and Effective Teaching Strategies
- Calming Stormy Waters
- Mindful Compassion
Continue to check out the YRDSB website for updated information as well as the Twitter account @YRDSB
Follow YRDSB Mental Health on Twitter @MH_YRDSB
YRDSB Mental Health services are provided by YRDSB psychology and social work personnel
Patricia Marra-Stapleton, M.Sc., C. Psych. Assoc.
Mental Health Lead
Hoshana Calliste, MSW, RSW
Assistant Coordinator of Mental Health