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Experts share mental health tips & resources for back-to-school anxiety

Parents, teachers and community members can help with the transition of students returning to school as the pandemic continues.

NORFOLK, Va. — Back to school is still not going to be the same as this pandemic continues.   After a year of mostly virtual classes, the experience has taken a toll on families, teachers and the community. 

Experts told 13NewsNow's Nicole Livas that everyone can play a role in helping with the transition. Robert Jamison is the Coordinator of School Counseling Services for Virginia Beach City Public Schools

"We have lots of students across all levels who haven't been in school in at least 18 months so we are taking the time daily to have inclusive openings where we have circles and conversations where people can talk about how they're doing and intentional closings where students can reflect," said Jamison.

It will take help from parents, teachers, counselors and the community to help ease the anxiety, uncertainty and fear. First by acknowledging the issues. 

Sam Fabian, the Community Outreach Manager for Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk said, "When you tell somebody -- Oh just get over it it's not a big deal, you're overreacting, it actually increasing that person's, that child's anxiety." Fabian said they've seen more young patients seek mental health care since the pandemic started. She said adults should try to give kids a positive outlook, and hope

Fabian said, " When they're feeling overwhelmed or feel their heart race really fast -- little ones and teenagers -- exhale and say I'm going to be okay. " 

According to Jamison, Virginia Beach schools are ready with resources. "Our school counseling staff, the other mental health staff we have, the other behavior and intervention specialists and as you know our principals and our teachers who are hearing and listening to our students' lived experiences," Jamison explained. 

RELATED: Parents search for virtual learning options as Delta variant spreads

As you prepare to head back, compassion and understanding are keys to success. Fabian said, "Be patient. So patient and realistic with expectations as your children get back into school and get back up to date in the groove with homework learning and re-learning what they lost in the last 18 months." 

And don't be afraid to reach out for help. "Please stop by the school counselor's office or please share your concerns with your teacher and the teacher can email the school," said Jamison. "Or if you're having a conversation at home if a parent or guardian is hearing this and thinking who can I talk to? Email the school counselor," he added.  

CHKD offers free parent education classes and resources to help parents and professionals help kids through anxiety and behavioral issues. Just check their webpage to sign up.

You can also check your school division's web page to get email addresses for your child's school counselors and administrators.  

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