It is that time of year again where students, parents, and school staff are preparing to go back to school. This time of year can be incredibly exciting, but also can produce a lot of stress and anxiety. While individuals are adjusting to their new schedules, it is really important for them to be aware of their own mental health needs as well.
For students, we know that 17% of youth (age 6-17) live with a mental health condition. We also know over the past year and a half we have seen an increase in these rates. For instance, according to Mental Health America, 9.7% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression, compared to 9.2% in last year’s dataset. There are numerous statistics focused on youth mental health that are very alarming and with school approaching, it is critical that we discuss the mental health needs of young people. School this year might still look different for a lot of students. Many students will still be wearing masks and there is a chance, some classes will be virtual. The transition back to school can be stressful enough for young people, but with so many unknowns it might be even more stressful. These are a few of the reasons why youth mental health must be discussed.
For young people it is important they know there are resources available. With the transition back to school, young people should take note of the resources which are available in their school and community and also the trusted adults in their life they can count on. Discussing mental health is a good thing to do. The more we discuss mental health, the more individuals will feel like they can ask for help when they need it. If you are a young person reading this, please know you are not alone. There are resources available and people who care about you! Never hesitate to reach out for help if you need it and make sure you are taking care of your mental health.
As just mentioned, it is important to discuss the mental health needs of young people, but it is also important to discuss the mental health needs of school staff. School staff who are also going back to school need to be aware of their mental health needs. If they are not taking care of themselves, they are not going to be able to take care of their students nearly as well. One thing that can be done to help both school staff and students, is to talk about mental health in the classroom. By opening up the conversation/dialogue surrounding mental health more individuals will feel comfortable asking for the help they need.
As the school year begins, school staff, students, and even parents need to take care of their mental health. It can be a stressful time of year for many people, but there are different things that can be done to help with the stress and anxiety felt.
Ultimately, each person needs to take care of themselves first and foremost. No one individual is immune to mental health conditions. So, take care of you! Be sure to give yourself grace during the school year and overall. Ask for help if you need help and know that you are never alone.
Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profit organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.