With millions of young people across Canada returning to virtual or in-person classrooms this month, it’s clear that this is a back-to-school season unlike any other.
From staggered starts to temperature checks, mandatory masks to socially distanced seating arrangements, the new protocols in place to help combat COVID-19 are causing many students to feel high levels of stress and anxiety.
In fact, Kids Help Phone’s data reveals that one in three young people reaching out via text feel distressed at the thought of going back to school – the third highest reported issue behind loneliness and general mental health.
“Kids Help Phone has been hearing from students, parents and teachers in every part of Canada who are expressing feelings of concern about heading back to school,” said Katherine Hay, President and CEO, Kids Help Phone. “This is an unprecedented new school year during an unprecedented moment in history. But we want Canadians to know they are never alone: Kids Help Phone is absolutely unwavering in our commitment to helping people nationwide navigate these challenging days and weeks, just as we have been every day for over 30 years.”
As Canada’s only 24/7, bilingual e-mental health solution for young people – with services available by phone or text at any time of day or night – Kids Help Phone is here for Canada’s students, families and educators.
To help people across the country feel supported during this time of transition and uncertainty, Kids Help Phone has created a special back-to-school program offering a range of resources, tips and insights.
The back-to-school program includes:
- A COVID-19 back-to-school checklist
- A series of blog posts for youth and caregivers, including “3 tips to support youth with back to school during COVID-19” and “Ways to ease concerns about school during COVID-19”
- An awareness-building campaign to ensure every young person in Canada knows how to access Kids Help Phone’s services
Kids Help Phone is also offering the following advice and resources for young people returning to school as well as the adults in their lives.
Tips to support youth who are heading back to school:
- Start by welcoming an open conversation. This will provide a young person the comfort needed to openly share how they are honestly feeling. Also, reassure them that they are not alone and there is always someone they can talk to.
- Work with them to outline personal boundaries that make them feel safe and comfortable and remind them to respect the comfort level of others.
- It is important to be flexible and to try to take everything one day at a time as things may continue to change frequently over the next few weeks and months.
- Reach out to Kids Help Phone; no problem is too small and no issue is too big.
For adults looking for ways to help young people manage stress and cope with uncertainty, here are several strategies:
- Remind them to be kind to themselves. This is a new environment/situation for everyone, and we are figuring it out together.
- Let them know their opinions and feelings matter and that it’s okay to feel stressed.
- Let them know it’s okay to “let it out,” whether that is by crying or laughing.
- Reassure them that it’s okay to ask for help.
- Help them manage their time.
- Encourage healthy eating, quality sleep and getting back to a routine.
- Remind them help is available 24/7 through Kids Help Phone via phone or text.
We encourage all young people and caring adults to share and access Kids Help Phone resources. Support is available 24/7.
- Young people can:
- Call 1-800-668-6868 for single session counselling with a professional counsellor in English, French or Arabic
- Text ‘TALK’ to 686868 to reach a crisis responder, in English and French
- Post-secondary students in Ontario can:
- Call Good2Talk at 1-866-925-5454 in Ontario for single session counselling with a professional counsellor, in English and French
- Text ‘GOOD2TALKON’ to 686868 to reach a crisis responder, in English and French
- Post-secondary students in Nova Scotia can:
- Call Good2Talk at 1-833-292-3698 in Nova Scotia for single session counselling with a professional counsellor, in English and French
- Text ‘GOOD2TALKNS’ to 686868 to reach a crisis responder, in English and French
- Adults of all ages can:
- Text ‘WELLNESS’ to 741741 to reach a crisis responder, in English and French
Be sure to visit Kids Help Phone’s back-to-school checklist, designed to help young people cope with changes to their school year during the COVID-19 outbreak.
SOURCE Kids Help Phone