If you’re headed back to school, chances are you’ve already made at least one checklist. Got your schedule? Check. What about your supplies? Check. Talked with friends about which classes you have together? Bet you checked that one more than once.
But there’s something likely missing from your list, and it might be the most important thing you take care of all year: addressing your mental health and wellbeing.
Going back to school can be exciting. It can also be terrifying, particularly for teens who’ve already experienced bullying, anxiety, stress, depression, or trauma. In addition to the nerve-wracking aspects of middle school or high school — crushes, grades, cliques — students today are grappling with intense experiences, including natural disaster anniversaries, school shooting drills, and heightened political and social tensions that disproportionately affect young immigrants and LGBTQ people.
If you’re feeling a whirlwind of back-to-school stress and anxiety, there are effective ways to respond, says Theresa Nguyen, a licensed clinical social worker and vice president of policy and programs for Mental Health America.