Shot of a group of children walking through the hall of a school
Focusing on back-to-school health
Airdate: Friday, August 11, 2023
Central Pennsylvania students will be returning school in a few weeks.
Nowadays, back-to-school usually focuses on new school clothes or what’s needed in the classroom like pencils, notebooks, and backpacks.
But what about children’s health as they go back to school? It’s getting more attention since theCOVID-19 pandemic disrupted normal classroom and learning activities in the last three years.
With us on The Spark Friday was Wellspan Health pediatrician Dr. Chris Russo, who talked about helping a young student with separation anxiety adjust, “One of the things is to really validate the child’s feelings, to be able to say, yes, I understand this, this can be anxious to talk about how you might have been anxious when you were starting school way back when. The other thing is to try to sort out what the root causes are. Tell me, why are you anxious? What are you afraid of? And trying to use that as a way to be able to have a discussion and a dialog with the child about actually, it. It may not be that scary. The unknown for many children is oftentimes far scarier than the reality, and that unknown could be riding the school bus for the first time. Waiting at the school bus could be getting homework for the first time, could be entering a new classroom. Perhaps some of their friends and classmates are no longer at the same school. So part of it is just really validating that child’s feelings. And we always, always for this and many other things, really having a discussion with your child.”
Dr. Russo indicated older children’s mental health has become an issue,”It’s something which we have seen increasingly — mental health presentations to the emergency department, particularly among adolescents and young females, have more than doubled since the pandemic. And while schools since they have reopened, those numbers have declined. They have not declined to pre-pandemic levels. So children are still increasingly going to the emergency department for anxiety and depression.” Dr. Russo again suggested conversations with kids about what they’re anxious about and for parents to monitor their child’s social media use, where some of anxieties can come from.”
Dr. Russo also said that parents should make sure their children have their regular immunizations and suggested annual physicals with a family doctor for children. Russo emphasized that kids should have a healthy, nutritious diet and said aprents can give their children a choice of healthy snacks or lunches that they want to take to school.