National Suicide Prevention Month and “Back-to-School” Season

Arm Yourself with Tips to Manage Anxiety & Stress

Summer can be a carefree season when schedules, commitments, and the daily grind are forgotten while vacations and languid days at the beach take over. But as the days get abruptly shorter, and parents prepare to take their children to college, anxiety and stress about school can become a concern.

On-Campus Stressors Are Not to Be Taken Lightly

The entire “back-to-school” season has adopted a cutesy character as a result of heavy commercialization. As September is National Suicide Prevention Month it’s perhaps more appropriate than ever to remember that on-campus suicide rates are increasing. A sobering article from the NY Times outlines case after case of avoidable mental health distress that left students feeling suicidal. The season should not be taken lightly and while the tips we’ve outlined below may seem trivial – they’re impactful enough to save lives.

Potential Stressors from Starting College

Entering an unknown realm with academic, social, and physical challenges can unnerve even the most stable students. Certain forms of anxiety, particularly social anxiety can be triggered by the thought of roommates, parties, and the expectation to act perfectly in every new encounter.

In college, many students will have their first experience living with other people in their dorm rooms. The need to compromise with regard to aesthetic decisions and lifestyle choices like how late to stay up and how much to socialize can trigger anxiety for students transitioning from home.

Another common source for potential mental health problems in students is being criticized by their parents. While virtually all parents want the best for their kids, a cycle of anxiety and depression sometimes can start and stop with parental criticism.

Staying on Top of Stressors

Parents can unwittingly transfer stress to their children through a comment, a derisive facial expression, or a dismissive reaction to something their child says. During the hypersensitive time of transitioning a student from home to college, these gestures can undermine a student’s sense of self-worth and make an already stressful situation even more difficult.

Parents can be caught up in their own need to make social comparisons and convey expectations to their children about academic and social performance. It is vital to be aware that these impulses can contribute to their child’s potential to experience anxiety at school. In instances where a parent is experience anxiety himself or herself, it is advised that they seek the help of a qualified mental health professional to benefit the entire family.

For the new student year, it helps to have a plan of action. Some helpful steps include:

  • Planning out an orientation and becoming familiar with a campus before arriving
  • Openly discussing potential fears and sources of anxiety with family members
  • Avoid having unreasonably high expectations for a new environment or school
  • Monitor performance as it relates to grades, friends, and social life

You Are Not Alone – Know Where to Find Help

Amanda Itzkoff, MD is pleased to offer ketamine treatment as an option for suitable candidates at her psychiatric practice. For general information, please feel free to email our office at To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.

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