The back-to-school shopping, the bustling hallways after a long summer away from friends, the first day icebreaker games – it’s all going to look a lot different this year, thanks to COVID-19.
Depending on the infection rates in your community, schools may not physically reopen at all. Whether it’s staggered school hours, safely distanced desks or strictly online learning, there’s a lot of uncertainty about how this schoolyear will play out. For students, parents and teachers, all these inevitable changes can add up to some big-time stress.
“As schools and families make tough choices, we have to acknowledge the impacts on students’ well-being. For children – and all of us – social connections are vital,” said Beth Ryan, regional clinical director at New Directions Behavioral Health, a company that provides behavioral health services to most Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan members. “Families are going to have to get creative, have open conversations about mental health and reach out for support to cope with all of these changes together.”
As parents, here are some things you can do to set your children up for success despite less-than-ideal circumstances:
Take advantage of the things you can control. Work healthy habits into a routine that works for you and your family. Whether your children leave the house for school or stay at home, try to keep the days structured with consistent times for waking up, eating meals, learning, relaxing and going to bed.
Be honest but try to stay positive. Your child should be able to come to you with questions or emotions, and count on your honesty. When talking about COVID-19, new school routines or anything else that is worrying them, it’s okay to not have all the answers. Reassure them that when you learn new information, you’ll share it with them.
Use your behavioral health benefits. Whether your family is really struggling emotionally or just needs some encouragement to balance it all, mental health professionals can connect you to tons of resources to help make life easier for both you and your child.
You may want to ask your primary care doctor for a referral to a mental or behavioral health specialist or use the Find a Doctor search feature on bcbsm.com to locate behavioral health professionals, including psychologists, social workers and professional counselors, in your area. You don’t need to be a Blue Cross member to use the search feature. Also, some Blue Cross members have a behavioral health number on the back of their member ID card that they can call for help.
Source: New Directions Behavioral Health