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Monday, September 27, 2021

Psychiatrist says schools should give kids a break amid pandemic stress

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TORONTO — With the start of the school year on the horizon, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist wants schools to give their students a break amid the ongoing pandemic-related stressors that have affected the mental health of children and youth.

Dr. Tyler Black, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and an assistant clinical professor at the University of British Columbia, says even before the pandemic, school has always been associated with increased stress for children.

“I work in an emergency department in a children’s hospital, and we would see more kids on school nights than on summer nights,” Black told CTV News Channel on Thursday. “Generally, school is a stressful time.”

Academic pressure, social pressures and bullying, in some cases, have all traditionally been contributors to school-related stress, Black says.

But for many students, the pandemic has added another layer on top of all this pre-existing stress, given the isolation from their peers as well as fears that they or their loved ones could get sick.

As students get ready to go back to school in September, Black says parents and schools need to remember that “kids are kids.”

“Coming back to school after all the times of social isolation and having to take time off, it would be really nice if the focus was a little bit less on the arithmetic and the ABC’s and a little bit more on the social connection,” Black said.

“This is going to be a stressful time. They’re going to want to go do their favorite activities. They’re going to want to do things to relax and let’s try not to put too much pressure on them,” he added.​ 

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