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 Navigating School:

Supporting Children with Mental Health Issues

This guide was written by Ann Douglas with the support of Parents for Children’s Mental Health (PCMH)

If you’re the parent of a child with mental illness, you already know that coping with change can be really hard. Heading back to school in an ordinary year is challenging enough for many kids—and this year, the challenge will be even greater. Not only will kids need to adjust to a whole new set of rules for keeping themselves and others safe at school: they’ll also be dealing with the challenge of transitioning back into their school year routines after roughly six months of rather unstructured pandemic living. Other kids will be facing new challenges that come with remote learning. In other words, they’re going to be dealing with a lot.

And that’s why kids will be counting on parents, teachers, and other caring adults to provide them with the support and reassurance they need to transition back to school successfully, in a way that fully supports their mental health. What follows is a guide to support you in your efforts to do just that: to lay the groundwork for a successful return to school for your child in what is likely to be an exceptionally challenging school year.

A Quick Guide to Supporting Parents and Families to Advocate for and with your Child 

Resources and tips to help you and your family navigate these uncertain times.

 

Acknowledge the Extent of the Challenge

Doing so will help you ensure that your expectations of your child are realistic

Empathize and Communicate

One of the most powerful ways you can support your child through the process of returning to school is by attempting to understand how they are feeling about the situation.

Identify Challenges, Brainstorm Solutions

Now that you’ve gained an appreciation for the biggest challenges your child is likely to face as they prepare to return to school, you can switch into problem-solving mode

Communicate with your Child’s Teacher

Once you’ve identified some specific challenges and worked with your child to identify some potential solutions, you’re ready to help your child to communicate their needs to their teacher.

Back To School Mental Health Kit

While back-to-school is hard for most children and youth in a normal year, this year our kids and their families are facing extraordinary circumstances relating to the pandemic and infection control measures. To help, Children’s Mental Health Ontario has prepared a Back-to-School Tool Mental Health Kit with resources and tips. 

Look for tips, resources and information to help parents and caregivers.

Survival Guide

Practical tips and information to prioritize your own wellness and start making things better for you and your family.

Back-to-School Tips for Parents 

Strategies for making a strange and uncertain situation feel a little less overwhelming for you and your kids.

Parenting in a Pandemic

Parenting in the midst of a pandemic is challenging, especially for parents of kids struggling with mental illness.

You Don’t Have to Do This Alone.

If you are a parent/caregiver worried about your child, or a young person looking for help yourself – please reach out. Our network of child and youth mental health centres has 4,000 professionals ready to help children, youth and families with free counselling and treatment. We provide care in person, on the phone and virtually. No problem is too big or small.

Find your closest child and youth mental health centre.

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