VANCOUVER ISLAND, B.C- The countdown for back-to-school is on, and Island Health has issued some tips for relieving the stress and anxiety that some students may experience.  

According to Meribeth Burton, media spokesperson for Island Health, while many children on the island are excited to get back to class, others may have a different experience.

“There’s also a large group of children who are going to be anxious and nervous,” said Burton.  

“Especially children who are transitioning to middle school or high school, there’s a lot of unknowns. Parents might be able to take the time over the next few days to take a tour of the school and make sure their child feels comfortable and familiar.”

The spokesperson said that starting a routine now is also important, especially setting sleep and wake times to get your child accustomed to them before school starts. According to her, parents can support children by asking them about their fears.

“Talk to your children if they have worries. Ask them about it, and try role-playing through situations, that will make them feel a little more prepared.”  

Burton said parents should watch for “red flags” in their children’s behaviour.

“Are your children frequently trying to stay home from school? Are they talking about physical complaints like a stomach ache or a headache, and there’s no real medical explanation for it?”

“That’s the time to probably GP involved, talk to a doctor and see if your child needs a little bit more support.”

Burton said many students try to “put on a brave face” while they are dealing with issues of stress and anxiety, but talking about mental health is extremely important.

“Take an active role in what they’re doing in school and that way they will feel supported even when they’re not at home,” she said.   

For additional support and information:

“Youth aged 15 to 24 years may benefit from an app created by Island Health and funded by Coast Capital Savings called Booster Buddy. The self-manage support system encourages youth to share their feelings, keep track of appointments and medications, use coping skills, and follow self-care routines. You can download BoosterBuddy at the App Store or Google Play and there’s more information about the app on our website.”

There are also tools and support for youth at Anxiety BC: http://youth.anxietybc.com