Mental health advice for families

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Although back to school shopping can be exciting; it can also create stress.

Brandon Kays, a mental health therapist with UofL said the change in routine that comes along with going back to school can bring anxiety for families.

“I think anything that’s important, it’s worth accepting that we might have some anxiety. We might be a little worried about how this year is going to go,” Kays said. “I think it’s fair for parents to be stressed, right. I mean, there’s enough stress in the world, especially for kids in school. With teacher shortages, with some terrible things that have happened in schools recently.”

Kays said that part of the stress felt in parents stems from not feeling a sense of control.

“I know that one day, my child will go to a school and I won’t have control. That sense of control is an illusion,” Kays said. Take away the mass shootings that have happened in the last two years; take away the chaos that exists; in society. We’re not really in control yet. Our kids can still be exposed to some of the same things. Our kids can still deal with peer pressure, toxic peer groups, or negative behaviors.”

His advice to parents is to make sure you have an open conversation with your family before school starts.

Talk about your collective and individual goals for the year and ask your child what you can do to support them. Make sure your children know there is space to come to them with questions, concerns, or confusion.

“You talk about things that are not generally talked about, you are able to offer insight into areas that you have already experienced in life; and you are also able to reduce the nerves a little, the anxiety a little; and encourage your child,” Kays said.

Kay added one of the best things any parent can do is make sure their child knows they are loved all the time; regardless of their grade projects, or performance in sports.

“These are trying times, but {kids} need to know they have support if they just ask for it and ask for it,” Kays said.

At Saturday’s school trip at St. Paul Baptist Church in Shively, hundreds of families came out to get free backpacks and supplies. The free event is courtesy of the Education First Foundation; which partnered with organizations including Historically Black College and University Alumni, Metro Government and more to help parents get a head start on the season.

“Families can come and register when they come; all we need is their school and their grade,” said Andrea Houston with the Education First Foundation.

Dionna Slemmons brought her daughter Tianna to get some extra supplies before starting 3rd grade.

“So it really eased my pain because I don’t have to worry about going to these different stores to try and find things,” Slemmons said.

Slemmons said she agrees with Kay’s advice. She said she has multiple check-ins with her children every day.

“Of course there is a bit of nervousness, but it’s like the kids have to develop and they have to learn. And what better way to do that than in school,” Slemmons said.

Copyright 2022 WAVE. All rights reserved.

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