Anxiety as school begins


The start of the new school year, although exciting for many children, can often present challenges for families and an upswing in anxiety.

Young children being introduced to school for the first time can experience separation anxiety while older children may be worried about meeting academic expectations, navigating peer groups and generally readjusting to a regular routine again after the relative freedom of the summer holidays.

Some anxiety is a normal response and most kids experience mild back-to-school uneasiness that gradually fades once they meet their teacher and settle in to class and a regular routine. This year, students, parents and teachers are facing significant additional back-to-school stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and a dramatically altered reality where social distancing and personal protection is key to stemming the tide of the coronavirus.

The Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division (CMHA BC) offers a number of free, evidence-based wellness programs which address anxiety and behaviour challenges in children aged three to 12 as well as programs based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for youth and adults experiencing mild to moderate anxiety and/or depression. All of these programs are easily accessible, free and available online or over the phone.

“Navigating COVID-19 and school is a lot to process for adults, let alone young children, especially when we as a society have also been wrangling with the mental health impact of social isolation and disrupted routines since March,” says Jonny Morris, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division.

“Now, more than ever, safeguarding our mental health and that of our children is of the utmost importance so we can minimize the negative mental health impact of this pandemic on their well-being.”