Does Back-to-School Anxiety Ring a Bell?


© Images Courtesy of Kids Help Phone

How You Can Support Student Mental Health This Year, All Year.

“I am a student and I have social anxiety so school isn’t a really happy place for me. I hope I can work on my mental health issues and make next school year more tolerable.”
— person contacting Kids Help Phone

Did you know that anxiety is one of the top issues that young people talk to Kids Help Phone about? Add in the stress of returning to school yet again during the COVID-19 pandemic, and youth in Canada face a backpack full of potential mental health struggles this year.

The back-to-school season can be an overwhelming time for young people — and the adults who care for them. Although anxiety around returning to the classroom is common, it can feel harder to manage when compounded by the continued upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic. And for youth experiencing mental health challenges — including depression, generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety, etc. — this time of year may be especially difficult.

From January 2019 to June 2022, 71 per cent of service users said they shared something with Kids Help Phone they’ve never shared with anyone else.

So far, in 2022, Kids Help Phone has supported young people more than 1.9 million times. This makes it clear that innovative, accessible and equitable mental health resources are now more vital in this country than ever.

For over 30 years, Kids Help Phone has been Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French. Our team of professional counsellors and trained, volunteer crisis responders are always available to listen, unlock hope and remind kids they’re never alone, from the living room to the classroom and beyond.

During and throughout the school year, Kids Help Phone works closely with educators across Canada, who play an essential role in providing support, guidance and structure to young people. And over the past two and a half years, educators have continued to go above and beyond to support their students, academically and emotionally, setting kids up for success for generations to come.

To support educators’ incredible efforts, Kids Help Phone developed Counsellor in the Classroom. This program pairs participating educators with a Kids Help Phone counsellor to promote the discussion of mental health among youth in their schools. Available to students in Grades 6 through 12 across Canada, the program aims to help youth:

  • gain a better understanding of mental health
  • identify how / where they can seek support
  • make a plan for how they can access support
  • feel more confident in seeking support

“Thank you very much for the fabulous experience! Our counsellor was so kind, positive and informative. She answered all of the students’ questions as if they were the best questions ever.” — participating educator, May 2022

Through Counsellor in the Classroom, Kids Help Phone, together with devoted teachers, administrators, support staff and others across Canada, can connect with more youth from coast to coast to coast. So, if you’re an educator interested in participating in Kids Help Phone’s Counsellor in the Classroom Program during the 2022–2023 school year, you can learn more and register for a session at

Though going to school has started to resemble pre-pandemic times in areas across Canada, for some young people and the adults who support them, the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of the past few years remain.

In the past two years, texters who responded to our survey during the back-to-school months reported feeling alone (20 per cent), worrying about someone getting sick (15 per cent) and something that happened in school (12 per cent) as their primary sources of distress.

As we prepare ourselves for the upcoming school year (whatever that’s like for students in your community), now’s the time to do your homework so that you can feel more confident and ready to support the young people in your life.

Some students may struggle with the discomfort of being away from home, feel fearful of socializing after being isolated for so long, find difficulty starting a new routine (or returning to an old routine) or have other concerns.

You can help the young people around you as they learn to navigate the ups and downs of school life by sharing tips with them that may be helpful along their wellness journey, including:

  • practising mindfulness
  • establishing a routine
  • being kind and patient with themselves
  • setting boundaries
  • asking for help
  • etc.

You can also suggest Kids Help Phone’s resources as an option for young people to explore on their own, with you or with someone else they trust. Through Kids Help Phone, youth in Canada can access:

  • mental health tips and info
  • quizzes, games and activities
  • support forums and
  • real-life stories crisis support
  • professional counselling
  • youth mental health data insights
  • a community support service directory
  • post-secondary student support
  • wellness support for all ages
  • and more

Kids Help Phone is the ally to youth that many adults hoped for when they were growing up. We envision a future in which every young person in Canada is empowered with the hope they need to thrive in their world. And we can’t do it without you!

To discover mental health resources, ways to get support and how to join our movement, you can visit

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About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7 e-mental health service offering free, confidential support to young people in English and French.


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