Mental health and back to school: What to look out for in students

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Back to school is here and the start of a new year can bring challenges for students. Starting a new grade level, balancing school, extracurricular’s and a social life can all impact a student’s mental health.

According to NAMI, one in 6 young people ages six to 17 experience a mental health disorder.

More data from NAMI says 37,000 Iowans ages 12 to 17 have depression. More than half didn’t get any care in the last year.

And high school students with depression are two times more likely to drop out than their peers.

Mona McCalley-Whitters, executive director for NAMI Linn County, said younger children might not be able to directly express their struggles.

She said there are some red flags parents, teachers and coaches can look out for.

”You could see some acting out behaviors. Perhaps they’re a little more irritable. They may be complaining about things like stomach aches or headaches. They could even exhibit some aggressive behavior at school,” she said.

McCalley-Whitters said there are also signs you can look out for when it comes to older students as well.

“Maybe they’re engaging in more risky behaviors. Drinking, sexual promiscuity. Excessive sleeping or undersleeping. They may even have things like losing interest in their normal activities,” McCalley-Whitters.

McCalley-Whitters added some things we can do to support mental health including mindfulness exercises like yoga or writing in gratitude journals.

And of course, if you are experiencing a mental health crisis you can always call the 988 helpline that will connect you to a mental health professional.

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