For many young people, going back to school has not been easy — and it is happening at a time when rates of depression, anxiety and substance abuse have risen dramatically. The consequences may be felt by young people and their communities for years to come. Profound, long-lasting mental health effects will disproportionately impact youths with preexisting mental health conditions, those from marginalized or communities of color and those who lack supportive social networks.

Teens and young adults who found online learning exceptionally challenging, or who relied on educational support that was disrupted by the pandemic, may return to the classroom with significant educational gaps. In particular, young people in families where abuse was occurring were left without critical wraparound services and will likely need deep support and connection as they resume in-person studies.

In light of these challenges, educators should consider the following when preparing to support the mental health of adolescents and young adults as they ease back into classes:

  • Prepare for a different educational landscape. 
  • Expect emotional, social and mental health needs. 
  • Create opportunities for youth to process and understand their experience. 

Parents and caregivers can help to support the mental health of their children as they ease back into in-person classes by considering the following:

  • Check in with your child regularly. It’s important to be calm and initiate conversations with your child.
  • Focus on building connectedness. 
  • Keep the things that worked. 

Read the full article about student mental health by John MacPhee at The 74.