Combatting mental health issues amid return to the classroom

Some Northern Virginia students are headed back into the classroom Tuesday for the first time in close to a year, including in Loudoun and Fairfax counties. It’s a big change of pace, and according to experts, it can lead to mental health challenges for many children too.

"A lot of anxiety and stress about just not knowing what to expect," Dr. Mary Alvord, a psychologist and the director of Alvord, Barker & Associates, explained Tuesday before offering advice for how parents can help those nervous students out.

READ MORE: Fairfax, Loudoun County schools begin return to classroom with in-person, hybrid plans for some students

First, she mentioned the need to get back into a routine, especially when it comes to sleep.

"We underestimate the need for adequate sleep but also sleep that is timed with the school schedule," Alvord said.

She added that it’s important to reassure your child and suggested comparing their current situation to the end of a normal summer break.

"You’ve done this before," Alvord demonstrated. "It’s like from summer to when you start school again. You always get a little bit of those jittery feelings because you’re not sure what’s going to happen, but you know, you make it."

Alvord also said to keep things positive and remind your children that others are feeling the same way.

"We are resilient," she said, "and we’re not alone."

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Of course, the pep-talks won’t always be necessary. For instance, Sterling Elementary School kindergartener Rosaly told FOX 5 she’s not nervous at all.

"I’m happy and excited," she smiled, "because I like school so much."

The mental health of returning students is a topic that had been previously covered by WTOP.