JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Many kids and teachers headed back to the classroom Thursday virtually or in person.
“When I was in 7th grade, they did an online class, and it was a mess," Zach Hoff said.
Going into 8th grade causes even more stress and questions for the Fruit Cove Middle School student.
“I’m interested to see how it will all play out because I wonder if one person has a fever at our school, will all of the schools have to get shut down?" Hoff said.
“We’ve seen an increase definitely in the areas of depression and anxiety," said Kim Sirdevan, president and CEO of the Youth Crisis Center.
The Youth Crisis Center has seen a huge surge in both parents and students coming to them for help with the mental health as the new school year approaches.
“I think most important is to stay as calm as possible," Sirdevan said. "Open the lines of communication with your child. Check in frequently with your child on how they’re feeling, how they’re doing in school, how are they socially interacting with others in school?”
Sirdevan says to find a creative outlet to channel your anxiety into. That can be drawing or anything else you find eases your stress. Spending quality time with family and friends can also help you destress.
“For my mental health, I really like to play basketball and video games to keep my mind off of things," Hoff said.
Focusing on what you can control is another tip for back-to-school anxiety.
“Have your kids do deep-breathing exercises," Sirdevan said. "Make sure they stay connected to their friends and social outlets. If they like playing outside, let them play outside or read.”
Playing basketball outside is one of Hoff's favorite things to do. He has high hopes for the upcoming school year.
“I’m pretty hopefully that it’ll go well," Hoff said. "There’s always a chance that it won’t, but I’m really hopeful.”
The U.S. Census Bureau reports more than one-third of all Americans have clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the coronavirus pandemic began.