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University of Michigan working to ease stress as students return to school

University of Michigan working to ease stress as students return to school
University of Michigan working to ease stress as students return to school 02:03

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Students are heading back to school this week, which means nervousness and anxiety for some.

University of Michigan health experts say that feeling can be healthy, but for most, it can be concerning.

The CDC estimates roughly 5.8 million kids between the ages of 3 and 17 were diagnosed with anxiety from 2016 to 2019.

"Those behaviors and those emotions can sometimes be really impairing for a child, and when that occurs, that is when you want to call a specialist for help," said Dr. Nasuh Malas, a child psychiatrist for the University of Michigan health system.

Malas said it can be difficult for parents to anticipate some of the stressors their kids may experience at this time of year but says some strategies can help when responding to your children when they are distressed.

"One thing you can do is speak in a very loving and empathic tone because that shows the child that they're cared for, and it gives them a sense of stability when you're engaging them," said Malas. "You also want to really provide them some structures throughout their day."

Roughly 50 million kids go back to school every year, which means one in 10 kids have been diagnosed with anxiety, and thousands more struggle with it at some point during their schooling.

"It can be really hard to reassure children and adolescents about some of the stressors that kids just experience in school these days, whether it's bullying or violence, or other unexpected challenges that occur, it's hard to really anticipate all that all you can do as a parent, is create an open door policy where anything that the child wants to bring to you, they can bring it to you in a loving and nurturing way," said Malas.

If your child needs extra help, Malas says there is no shame in reaching out to a mental health provider or school personnel.

Malas says to make sure your child is getting enough sleep and nutrients every day.

"Having a good sense of self and self-worth are all really important things for youth to have," he said. 

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