Back-to-school anxiety? How to watch your teen for signs of stress

Making the transition back to school, at any age, can be an anxious time for students of any age.

Stress is normal at first, but if it persists the student might need support

Back-to-school season can be an anxious time for young people as they transition into another grade or start at a new institution. (Paulius Brazauskas/Shutterstock)

Making the transition back to school, at any age, can be an anxious time for students of any age. 

Terrie Fitzpatrick, manager of Student Counselling Services at the University of Saskatchewan, specializes in dealing with students who are struggling with their moods and mental health.

"Most of the time when we see kids or young adults transitioning into different grades or different locations, again anxiety is a normal part of their reaction."

But if the anxiety is getting in the way of normal functioning, it can be a sign of a deeper problem, Fitzpatrick said. 

"If somebody's stressed within the first week of transitioning that's quite normal," she said. "If you're looking at longer periods, where they can't concentrate on their studies or an exam, then that gets into a little different arena where extra support and parents' vigilance around that level of anxiety is probably more important."

Fitzpatrick said obvious signs to watch for are lack of sleep, lack of eating, and some level of despondency. 

​Having an open dialogue with teens is important. And managing anxiety and stress comes back to the basics: eat well, get enough sleep, find a balance between studying, working and being social.

"If you get too far off track, that's when they end up coming in here."


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