JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Monday is the first day of the new school year for students in Duval County.
As children return to the classroom, parents are encouraged to keep track of their child’s mental health.
Mental health screenings are a vital part of setting your child up for success this school year, according to clinical social worker Lori Osachy.
“Just keep in mind that kids going back to school is a big transition and also after Covid and everything last year you want to be careful with kids because they’re not always going to just express their feelings,” Osachy said.
Mental health refers to a child’s emotional, behavioral and mental well-being.
According to the CDCSigns of depression and anxiety can appear in children as young as 3 years old, but are highest in children aged 12 to 17 years.
Osachy says a change in behavior is usually a sign that something is wrong.
“If your child normally talks and spends a lot of time in his room or is more aggressive with his siblings when they normally aren’t. Or if they cry a lot or if they’re mad at you,” Osachy said.
This week the CDC updated its guidance on COVID-19, which now allows students to stay in their classrooms if they have been exposed to the virus.
The agency is moving away from distance learning, which it claims has been shown to hinder learning and increase mental health problems.
“Just as our bodies are important to take care of, we need to take care of our minds,” Osachy said.
Simple steps that can make the biggest difference for students.
Osachy emphasizes the importance of de-stigmatizing mental health and for parents to create a safe space for children to talk about it.
A simple conversation during a car ride or even a walk together can be great places to start.
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