Going back to school can be a thrilling but difficult time for students and families. Students of all ages may experience challenges that can take a toll on their mental health.
Here are some ways that parents, teachers, students, and clinicians can encourage better mental health.
Scale Back on Screen Time
Limiting screen time for children is challenging, but possible! The start of a new school year is a great time to staring scaling back.
- Be intentional about limiting screen use. Talk to kids about their goals for the school year, such as getting on a sports team or achieving a specific GPA, and use those goals to guide screen-use habits.
- Discuss with kids which activities or tools are most distracting, and focus on those.
- Rather than quitting “cold turkey,” encourage students to change the content they consume, rather than cutting it out entirely. For example, encourage them to watch full-length movies with others instead of short videos on TikTok.
- Have students reduce the number of social media accounts they follow.
- Buy an alarm clock and keep screens out of bedrooms.
- Use apps that track screen time or block specific websites.
Take a Stand Against Bullying
Unfortunately, many students experience bullying at school. Although schools and organizations often have anti-bullying policies, students and families should take steps themselves.
- Be observant for signs of bullying. These include torn clothes, unexplained injuries, or missing items or money. Students may experience frequent stomach aches or headaches, changes in eating habits, difficulty sleeping, unwillingness to attend school, lack of friends, lower self-esteem, and feeling helpless.
- Encourage students to ask for help from parents, teachers, or friends if they experience bullying.
- Work with your student on techniques to prevent bullying, such as practicing scenarios to learn to ignore bullies or stand up to them.
Cyberbullying is not limited to the school year. According to stopbullying.gov, “Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation.”
Families should talk to their kids about what they may have experienced online. Some things to keep in mind with cyberbullying:
- Keep passwords are protected and difficult to guess. Log out of all your accounts on public devices.
- Encourage students to seriously consider what they post online, including provocative pictures of themselves. Emphasize the permanent nature of anything shared online.
- Set up privacy controls on devices and apps.
- Avoid opening messages from strangers.
Help Build Healthy Habits
There’s a close connection between physical health and mental health. That’s why it’s important for kids to build healthy habits that can affect both their minds and bodies.
- Pack healthy lunches for children, with lots of fruits, veggies, and protein.
- Avoid too much sugar and fried foods.
- Discourage students from consuming caffeine and other stimulants.
- Make sure kids’ bedrooms encourage sleep: cool, dark, and quiet, with limited distractions.
- Practice these healthy habits as a family.
Avoid being too rigid about healthy habits. Otherwise, it may increase the risk of other issues, such as eating disorders.
Back-to-school time may increase the demand for behavioral health services. If your behavioral health practice is seeing increased demand and struggling to keep up, it may be time for new tools. Contact BestNotes today to find out how our EHR solutions can help your practice become more efficient and profitable.