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School Reopening: Wellness Resources & Supports

Limestone Learning Foundation
Click here to view video on how to support students' return to in-class learning during COVID-19.Click here to view video on building resilience in children.Click here to view video on how to develop good sleep hygiene habits.Click here to view video on understand anxiety (Part 1).Click here to view video on understand anxiety (Part 2).

Supporting mental health and wellness during the return to school

Going back to school after a summer break can be an adjustment, even under normal circumstances. This year brings additional challenges and stress because of COVID-19. It’s important to acknowledge that returning to school will look and feel quite different this year, whether it’s in-person learning, remote learning or a combination of both. You can help your students to know what to expect, be flexible when things are uncertain, and feel confident about the return to school.

Understanding stress

The challenges that students have experienced may be associated with feelings of anxiety. This is a natural response. Anxiety can show up in different ways. Your student may tell you that they are feeling fearful or overwhelmed. Or you might notice things like frequent headaches, trouble sleeping, irritability or emotional outbursts. Your student might seem withdrawn, or overly tired or restless. Being watchful for signs of anxiety can help you to provide support early, before the problem worsens.

There are two main ways we can help young people who are experiencing stress:

  •  help them to find ways to cope with feelings of anxiety
  •  find ways to help reduce the stress itself

Not all stress can be avoided, but sometimes we can reduce it. Having tools and strategies ready to cope with stress is important, so that we and our students can be less negatively affected.

Ways to support your student during the return to school

Take care of you, so you can be your best to support your students. Often, our own self-care comes last. During the return to school period, it might be a good time to try to move that up your priority list a little bit. Try to take time each day to do something just for you that helps you to feel well and happy. You know best what that is. Practising self-care and positive coping during uncertain and difficult times is a powerful tool to support your students.

Get organized. Though there are still many uncertainties, you can take some time to think through what the return to school might be like and what your student will need to feel comfortable and successful. For example, public health guidelines include directions related to hand-washing and mask use. Practice having your student wear a mask so they know what it feels like. Wear one yourself so that they can get used to seeing adults wearing masks, and learn how to listen and ask questions when they don’t get to see facial expressions in the same way.

Talk to your child about the return to school. Students may feel nervous about returning to school. It is important to be honest and allow space for them to express their concerns, while avoiding too much focus on physical safety and/or risk.

Pay attention to special transitions. The return to school has special meaning and challenges for those who are experiencing other big transitions this coming school year. For example, students starting high school, or moving to a new school, may be more nervous than normal because they have missed the usual transition experiences, like visiting the school in advance. Reassure your child that there will be many caring adults at school to help them to navigate their new school.

Start to introduce familiar routines. You may wish to gradually start to move back to a schedule that is closer to the one you use during school time. This may mean going to bed a bit earlier, getting up earlier or eating at more regular times. You can begin to gather school supplies as you normally would.

If your student is already connected to the school support team, you can reach out to them. If not, check with the school administrator to learn about school mental health services that are available.

Conversation starters for the return to school

In discussions with your child, consider asking these questions:

  • Who are you looking forward to connecting with this school year?
  • What is one thing you’re hoping to do during the school year?
  • What are the strategies that really worked for you during remote learning?
  • Are there things we can build on?
  • How are you feeling about this school year?
  • What’s one thing you feel excited for?
  •  Is there anything you feel a bit worried about?
  •  How can I help you to feel comfortable about school?

How would I know that my child is experiencing a mental health problem?

Parents and caring adults may notice changes in behaviours and emotions that could be potential signs of a mental health problem. Ask yourself: 

  • Are these behaviours and emotions out of character for my child?
  • Are they having a negative impact on my child’s ability to enjoy everyday life?
  • Are they having a negative impact on our family life? 
  • Are they getting in the way of my child’s progress at school? 
  • Are these concerning behaviours happening more often?
  • Are they more intense? 
  • Are they lasting longer?
Image of chart outlining signs that may indicate a mental health concerns for students.

Helpful Tip Sheets/Resources

Online Wellness Resources

  • Kids Help Phone – Children and youth can contact Kids Help Phone 24/7 from anywhere in Canada, via phonetextoronline chat.

  • Jack.org Youth Mental Health Resource Hub - Jack.org, School Mental Health Ontario and Kids Help Phone have partnered to create an online hub to help students take care of their mental health and look after one another.

  • Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support – free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. 
     
  • Big White Wall – A free, anonymous online community, monitored 24/7 by trained professionals. Not intended for individuals in an emergency.

  • Bounce Back – A free online or telephone skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress, or worry.
     
  • Moodgym – An online self-help program designed to help users prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Anxiety Canada - Free online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety, including resources specific to COVD-19. 
     
  • 12 Step Meetings - Online AA meetings in various formats, including email, chat room, audio/video, discussion forums, and telephone. 


The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.