Huntsville mental health professional gives advice for preventing back-to-school anxiety

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 10:30 AM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Returning to the classroom after the summer break can be exciting for students. But for other kids, it can be overwhelming and cause students to be anxious.

Monretta Vega, Psychotherapist and owner of Huntsville Psychotherapy and counseling services, says that it’s normal for students to be slightly anxious. Still, she said things such as separation from loved ones, transitioning to a new routine, and upcoming course load can enhance anxiety at the beginning of the school year.

Studies also show that there could be another reason students may have anxiety when returning to the learning environment.

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting

According to a report by the American Medical Association, a study found anxiety among kids doubled after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Experts believe school shootings and political tension compounded it.

Vega said communicating effectively and creating a safe place is important.

“You want to provide a positive narrative, not necessarily overly positive to the point of it being toxic but being able to reassure them and problem-solve,” Vega said. ”Not just saying hey, it’ll get better help them. Come up with some solutions providing that safe space would be a great start.”

Vega also says some signs that a child is anxious, fidgeting, isolation, and inability to concentrate like a focus. You can also notice some changes at home, such as a lack of sleep, inability to sleep, or a decrease in their appetite.

Vega says to prevent things like these, students must have an open line of communication with parents and teachers. She said this could help ease anxiety.

Vega said students themselves can also keep a few things in mind as they head back to school.

“I would encourage students to take a deep breath,” Vega said. " Visualize the best part of their day, even if the best part of their day is lunchtime or spending time with friends, or simply going home at the end of the day. But take a moment to take each class at a time.”

If your child is still anxious several weeks after school is back in session, feel free to seek professional help.

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