Help Teens Prepare Emotionally for the New School Year

Back-to-school season can be a stress trigger for teens.

Bonnie Jean Feldkamp
3 min readAug 8, 2019

I had to hound my daughter to take a shower or simply change her clothes. I thought she was acting lazy. But when her therapist admitted her to the hospital for suicide risk, I learned that personal hygiene had been too much to ask. All of her energy went into facing the day.

There is no suicide season. It happens year round and for every child there are different stressors and back-to-school season can absolutely be a stressor. School’s social and academic expectations can exacerbate anxiety and leave a child feeling overwhelmed. It’s a good time for parents to check in.

What Should You Say?

Ideally parents are not coming out of the blue with questions like, “How was school today? Any thoughts of ending your own life?” That’s a bit jarring. The idea is to set a routine of checking in with the young person and giving them vocabulary around around their emotions along the way. It can be as simple as “How are you settling in with Freshman year?” Or maybe “Anything about middle school have you feeling a bit lost?” Open the conversation.

Parents shouldn’t wait until things are in crisis mode. Dr. John Ackerman, a clinical psychologist and suicide…



Bonnie Jean Feldkamp

Bonnie is an award-winning syndicated columnist and opinion editor for The Louisville Courier Journal @WriterBonnie