Back-to-school can be a very exciting and emotional time for many families. New teachers and classrooms, or a new school or neighborhood or a new city or college campus. While we prep for back-to-school with classroom supplies or dorm room basics, it can be easy to overlook the mental and emotional piece that comes up for many kids during this frenetic time. At Berks Teens, we know that mental health challenges and triggers are common this time of year. Trauma, bullying, and safety can influence academic performance and behaviors. Knowing the signs and where you can get help and support can make a big difference.
What To Know:
- Trauma is a result of a distressing event that causes emotional and even physical responses after the event occurred. Symptoms of trauma can hinder youth in school. Mental Health America says signs include anger and irritability, sudden changes in appetite, irregular attendance and tardiness, panic attacks, and low self-esteem.
- Bullying is when a student is teased or harassed emotionally, verbally, and sometimes physically by peers. Students get bullied about ethnicity, weight, preferences, gender identity, sexual orientation, –anything that sets them apart or makes them different.
- Safety in school has become increasingly relevant as of late, due to weapons, gun violence and threats happening in schools with regularity. Students feeling unsafe in their school can cause excessive worry, anxiety, and decreased motivation to participate or attend school due to feelings of uncertainty.
Courtney Stunz, Site Coordinator at Wilson High School, says that one of the most important and valuable things you can do for your student is to talk with them and “find out which of their needs is not being met and what could be causing the specific behavior you are observing.” Do they feel unsafe or is someone bothering them at school?
How do we help our students feel safe, confident, and supported? Talk to your kids daily about what’s going on at school with peers, staff, and events. Get familiar with school resources like counselors, clubs, or support groups. Let them know they are not alone, and you are there to help. For more information, visit mhanational.org/ or talk to your healthcare provider. Locally, Holcomb Crisis Intervention of Berks County – 24/7 Crisis line 610-379-2004 or Toll Free 1-888-219-3910.
By Celines Valerio
Berks Teens, Director of Community Engagement