Most adults experience the ‘Sunday Scaries’, even if you don’t know what that is.  According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The Sunday scaries are feelings of intense anxiety and dread that routinely occur every Sunday. They often start in the late afternoon and continue into the evening. However, depending on a person’s level of anxiety, these feelings can start as soon as they get out of bed,” says Psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD.

Now imagine, instead of a looming 8am alarm clock on Monday, that you are staring down 9 months of a school year without knowing what to expect, who you will be, and how you will measure up to your peers. It’s understandable that students may be experiencing a case of the ‘Back to School Scaries’ this time of year. 

Knowing how to support students during this time can be a challenge.  You know that mental health is important and we are here to provide a few suggestions on how you can equip yourself for back to school planning to deflect some student anxiety in the coming weeks.

First, it’s important to understand that back to school is different for kids today than it was in the past. Not only are children and young adults dealing with an enormous difference in connectivity, social media, and technology, but many are coming from an experience of education in the time of Covid. 

We had the opportunity to speak to a 17-year-old who is going to be a senior this school year about her experiences as a student, specifically a student who spent most of her high school experience through the lens of Covid. She mentioned, “Covid kids appreciate school more.”

Simply the idea of being able to wake up, get dressed, and be around people was not something that she got to experience for most of her high school career. When we asked her how covid kids are different from their parents she said, “[Covid kids] have had to adapt faster. We have had things change all the time without knowing how they were going to turn out.”

Considering this, in addition to all the typical pressures of meeting new people, having new classes, and fitting in, it’s completely understandable why many students are feeling anxiety about a new school year. Students may experience unhealthy habits or coping mechanisms when trying to process mental health issues or feelings of being overwhelmed. But what can you do about it? You can help students prepare for these feelings by communicating with your young person. Specifically, with the goal of understanding their concerns instead of making assumptions about their feelings. Some questions you could ask are:

  • What are some worries that you have about the school year?
  • How can I support you through the school year?
  • What can I do now to set you up for success this school year?
  • Is there someone you can go to at school if you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious?  

Be understanding if the student in your life doesn’t know how to answer these questions right away. Young people may not always have the words to express how they are feeling which can lead to them shutting down, rolling their eyes, shrugging, or shutting you out. 

If you struggle with the child in your life shutting down or you feel they are shutting you out, you may need a change of scenery. Find an activity that you both like to do, for example going for a walk, trying a new restaurant, reading a book together, or even coloring. This mutual activity may open the lines of communication in a way that you might not expect. Ask the questions above in the ‘less stress’ environment and you might be surprised at the different outcome. If it doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. They want you to reach out, but they might not always show it in the way you expect. Once you connect in a different way, you may be encouraged by what a difference it makes.

If you feel that a student close to you is struggling and you don’t know what to do to support them, you can reach out to their school’s administration to inquire about school linked mental health services that are available to your student at their school. ZVHC actively works with Kingsland, Rochester Public Schools and Alternative Learning Center, Pine Island School District, Stewartville Public Schools, and Rochester Community and Technical college.

You can also find resources and referrals to reputable children’s mental health professionals, including our team of professionals. If the student you support is experiencing anxiety, depression or thoughts of suicide, call the Crisis Response line at 844.274.7472, text MN to 741741, or contact the National Suicide Hotline via phone at 988 chat at

When the student in your life can name what they are feeling, and when they feel supported by you, they will feel confident that they are starting the school year prepared. Fresh notebooks, new shoes, and a healthy mental state – just what every child needs on the first day of school.

For more information about children’s mental health support, please contact us at