Back to School stress

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Back-to-school is a time of stress and anxiety for kids of all ages and this often leads to an increase in adolescent and teen suicides, according to a licensed clinical social worker at Evolve Counseling and Behavioral Health with offices in Phoenix and Gilbert.

According to the CDC, the suicide rate among 10 to 14-year-olds has more than doubled since 2007.

A freshman girl at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale took her life with a drug overdose over the last weekend of July and was removed from life support Aug. 1.

“Suicide is the third leading cause of death for school-aged children over the age of 10, and the second leading cause, behind accidents, for those over 15,” said Evolve social worker Michael Klinkner. 

“While children are resilient, the last few years have been very trying. Between the global pandemic, increase in school shootings and the continued negative impact of social media, times are challenging for kids and their parents who aren’t equipped to handle this continued level of crisis.”

A spokeswoman for Evolve said a study by the American Psychological Association revealed that teenagers are the most stressed and anxious people in the U.S. It also unveiled that 83% of kids cite school as the main cause of their stress and that during the school year, 27% reported experiencing “extreme stress” compared to 13% reporting that during the summer.

Klinkner and his team at Evolve Counseling are offering Valley parents an opportunity to increase the tools in their parenting toolbox through a five-week workshop called Parenting Evolved.  

The program consists of five 90-minute weekly group classes where trained counselors provide an understanding of various parenting styles, changes in the brain during development, tangible ways to strengthen the parent-child relationship as well as effective methods to increase compliance and successfully modify behaviors.

“Today’s kids are fraught with anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies - much more than when we were kids,” added Klinkner. “We need to cultivate strategies to give our children a safe space to share their feelings and recognize anxiety is normal. It’s also essential to give our kids coping strategies to tap into when they feel overwhelmed.”

Klinkner gives some tips and advice about how to best support students as they transition back into the classroom: communicate openly and honestly; become engaged in school activities and help with homework; volunteer at school and with sporting activities and hobbies; communicate regularly with teachers, administrators and coaches about your child’s wellbeing and emotional needs; encourage your child to make healthy decisions; spend quality time with your child to increase bonding.

For more information about the Parenting Evolved workshops:

Evolve Counseling and Behavioral Health Services offers individual counseling, couple’s counseling, family counseling, teen counseling and child counseling. Its Gilbert office is at 1206 E. Warner Road. 

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