As we all gear up for the beginning of a new academic year, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that this September will come with more challenges than finding dress code-appropriate shoes or the quickest route between new classrooms. The beginning of the new year is always somewhat stressful but returning to formal education after four months of lockdown will undoubtedly take its toll on the mental health of young people and their families.

We want to do everything we can to support those affected by the return to school, so we’ve offered some suggestions for readjusting to school. We’ve also put the spotlight on some charities committed to helping make the transition easier, all of which can be supported with Pledjar.

Exercising for mental and physical health

We’ve known that a link exists between mental health and exercise for a long time – the endorphins released when we move and get our hearts pumping are natural mood-boosters. Whether students prefer having a kick around with mates after school or taking a swim to start the day, making sure they’re moving — and enjoying it — can help to reduce stress and make some unforgettable memories in the process. The Mintridge Foundation helps students enhance those memories and achieve their sporting potential by arranging for Olympic and Paralympic athletes to mentor individuals through their schools. The sessions have a dual focus on mental and physical health, and are offered to students of all ages and abilities.

Take time out

Returning to school will be a bit of an overload in a lot of ways. Suddenly interacting with lots of people again, while learning in a structured environment and spending six hours outside of the house might be a bit overwhelming, especially for students with anxiety. We recommend young people try mindfulness techniques, remember to set some time aside for themselves and avoiding academic pressure for the first couple of months. The Shaw Mind Foundation works to equip teachers with information and strategies that will enable them to best help their students manage their own needs and make sure their return to the classroom is as relaxed as possible.

Be open about your concerns

Young people deserve to have their concerns taken seriously. Everyone will have different worries about heading back to school this year, whether they centre on health risks, being behind in their work or having rusty social skills. Creating a safe space in which they can discuss any concerns is the responsibility of parents and teachers, but sometimes it’s easier to speak to people you don’t know about tough feelings. That’s where Self Injury Support comes in. They offer a secure place in which young people who are considering hurting themselves can discuss their concerns and come up with healthier coping mechanisms. The Muslim Youth Helpline also offers a safe space to discuss worries seven days a week, 365 days a year. They also have an online webchat option.

There’s no doubt that heading back to school this year will be more challenging than normal, and we need to be more aware than ever of our young people’s mental health. You can support all of the charities we’ve mentioned in today’s blog with Pledjar.

With over six million children going back to school, and parents having to buy uniform and equipment, rounding up your debit card purchases can put your spare change to work supporting our young people on their return to school. You can also help support British households earning lower incomes who are more concerned with how to pay for prepping their children for the new school year. Education 4 Everyone and my AFK are a couple of charities that strive to get children the help they deserve and you can be a part of this by signing up to donate your spare change.

To find out more about how we work, and to sign up, click here.

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