Many of us faced intense personal and professional changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Educators and students felt—and still feel—a huge strain when it comes to transitioning through the changes thrown at them. Some of these major strains include mental health and nutrition struggles for both students and teachers. These stressors often won’t lessen without professional help and that’s where you come in. Providers can help address these back to school health concerns by staying connected with their patients and the concerns going on in their schools.
Health Providers Can Provide a Smoother Transition
New concerns have surfaced now that schools are opening back up for the 2021-2022 school year. The emotional and mental well-being of students and teachers are gaining attention—for good reason. After bouncing back and forth between in-person, remote, and hybrid classrooms in 2020 and early 2021, this population should be a focus of primary care providers. Providers can help students prepare for the school year by making sure annual physicals are scheduled, immunizations are discussed, and therapy options are considered.
Due to the stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 31% increase in mental health-related visits to emergency departments compared to 2019. Unfortunately, many school districts do not have school psychologists or healthcare professionals available to support the mental needs of their students or teachers. Many school districts are looking into federal funding to hire more mental health providers for the coming school year.
The relationship between providers and their patients is more important than ever during this year’s back-to-school transition. Healthcare professionals working with students and educators should prioritize staying up to date on the latest information on mental and emotional wellbeing in schools. While this time is exceptionally busy for primary care providers, is it not a time to neglect continuing education.
Many students had trouble finding appropriate meals before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, students are having difficulty eating healthy meals. The School Nutrition Association recently continued emergency provisions for school meals without additional charges for the coming school year. Though this is a positive step forward, many parents still struggle to purchase healthy foods or know exactly what to feed their little ones.
This is where you step in. Primary care providers and nutrition specialists are the guiding force behind families finding meal supports and knowing what balanced meals consist of. Keeping families updated with meal and nutrition services helps providers learn more about their patients needs and provide necessary support to the families they work with.