Mental Health and Well Being for Preschool-Grade 12

More than 4 in 10  students felt persistently sad or hopeless
kids mental health stat

Transitioning back to early childhood programs or school— or starting them for the first time—can create extra challenges, particularly in times of stress. 

What can parents and caregivers of young children do to help ? 

  • Make sure your child has a daily, predictable routine, with regular times for healthy meals, naps, and night sleep at home. Having a rested body and knowing what to expect at home helps children cope.
  • Connect with other parents /caregivers who have children in the same program and can provide information and make them more comfortable with the program.
  • For young children, talk with teachers about the best way to separate from their child at the start of the day—brief goodbyes are often best.
  • Try to stay calm and reassuring during transition—using a calm voice, with a relaxed face and body to let their child know that they wouldn’t leave them if the child were not safe and protected.
  • Talk with their child about what to expect and help them with strategies to manage stress and cope with worries, and review positive parenting tips to help children with feelings and behavior.
  • Make sure their child is caught up on well-visits with their healthcare provider and is up to date with recommended vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, to ensure that the child is healthy and well protected.
  • Monitor their child’s developmental milestones and learn what to do if there are concerns.
  • Remember that this is a phase—building new relationships is a skill, and with support, children can be resilient. Even if it’s hard to separate, children will gain a new trusted relationship with their new teacher and feel more secure.

What can parents and caregivers of teens do to help ? 

  • Communicate openly and honestly, including about their values.
  • Supervise their adolescent to facilitate healthy decision-making.
  • Spend time with their adolescent enjoying shared activities.
  • Become engaged in school activities and help with homework.
  • Volunteer at their adolescent’s school.
  • Communicate regularly with teachers and administrators.

Parents/caregivers with concerns can:

  • Take care of themselves during stressful times so they can be better equipped to take care of others.
  • Find resources to learn how to promote resilience and reduce anxiety in their children.
  • Talk to a healthcare professional if their child’s symptoms of anxiety or behavior problems are severe or persistent.
  • Contact a mental healthcare professional for parent training and support so parents can help their child.
  • Find resources for themselves if they are sad, worried, or stressed.
  • For children with new concerns that persist, ask the school for an evaluation to see if the child may need special education services or accommodations. For children with identified disabilities, ask the program to review their Individualized Education Program (IEP).



National Alliance on Mental Illness: Back to School


CDC Children's Mental Health


CDC Adolescent Mental Health

Understanding Your Teen's Emotional Health

Teen Emotional Health: How to Know When Your Child Needs Help

More Adolescent Mental Health Resources