Expert Health Articles

Youth Mental Health

It is the season of transition from summer to fall, and for many students from freedom to structure. Many students have a mix of excitement and dread for the upcoming school year. Even with this mixture, students commonly benefit from the increased structure school offers - it is built in socialization, cognitive exercise, physical activity, and provides opportunity for a routine sleep schedule. All students are encouraged to maintain these activities and structures outside of school year but often times it dissipates slowly. With the start of school, many of these benefits will quickly fall back in place for some students, increasing their ability to balance and manage their mental health.

However, some students may have negative changes or worsening symptoms of their mental health while transitioning from summer to school. School can provide some challenges within academics and social standing. Children and adolescents can commonly feel overwhelmed, anxious, increased agitation, sadness, isolated, and internal pressure for perceived perfection and/or the need to “fit in.” Bullying can increase these feelings in children and teens.

These emotions can lead to negative, worthless and hopeless thinking. These thoughts can include intrusive self-criticism, depreciating self-esteem and even suicidal ideation. When dealing with the combination of these types of emotions and thoughts, functioning can also be impacted. Changes in motivation, energy, interest, increased isolation and changes in sleep and appetite are all customary. Some children may even act out and have increased emotional outbursts. If these changes in functioning are present, someone may be experiencing increased mental health symptoms.

With COVID-19 and extended periods of remote learning, students may have more challenges transitioning.  It has been nearly two years since children and adolescents have had a “normal” school schedule. If you notice changes in a student or yourself during this transitional time, please know there are resources and services available to help. Hancock County also has a mental health crisis line accessible for anyone struggling with their mental health, 1.888.936.7116.

Elana Hoffman-Cooper, LISW-S
Social Worker with Blanchard Valley Medical Practices
Caughman Clinic, Pediatrics and Blanchard Valley Obstetrics & Gynecology