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Preparing for the School Year: Strategies for School Psychologists

Students today are facing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety, which has led to an unparalleled increase in mental health concerns. For students, this can mean difficulty concentrating in class, decreased academic performance, and increased absenteeism. Teachers and school staff are also affected by the mental health crisis. In addition to seeing more behavioral issues, educational concerns, and disruptions in the classroom, they are living and working in challenging environments and experiencing high levels of disengagement and burnout.  

As the new school year approaches, it is essential that school psychologists take proactive steps to prepare for the unique challenges that come with returning to the classroom. Here are a few tips to help school psychologists and mental health workers face the upcoming year with confidence and resilience. 

Actionable steps for a positive school year 

As the new school year approaches, here are some actionable steps that can be taken to ensure a smooth transition and promote positive mental health outcomes for all involved. 

  1. Develop a plan for student support services: School psychologists can work with school administrators to develop a comprehensive plan for providing support services to students at the start of the school year. This might include scheduling sessions for students who you know will need services ahead of time.  

    This is also an ideal time for researching and determining which standardized instruments you may want to have in your assessment library in advance of the school year. Take time to carefully evaluate your tools—what has worked in the past, what you may need in the coming year, and what you may need to learn to come into compliance with any changes in your district or state. Reach out to PAR’s team of assessment advisors for any assistance or training you may need. 

  2. Host parent information sessions and workshops: School psychologists can also host information sessions for parents to help them understand what to expect during the upcoming school year. A range of topics can be covered in these sessions ranging from academic expectations to behavioral management strategies and signs and symptoms of mental health concerns to watch out for in their child or teen.  

    Sessions can also include coaching parents on the importance of connecting with their child or teen on important issues and having regular check-ins and conversations to monitor their physical, emotional, and mental health at school. It is also helpful for parents to talk to their children or teens to encourage them to share concerns, problems, or feelings with other trusted adults, such as school guidance counselors, mental health services, psychologists, etc. This helps with the overall goal of improving social and emotional learning at every level, from students to superintendents. It helps create a safe environment for adults and children to talk about feelings of stress, fear, or anxiety and teaches them how to regulate these emotions and reminds them that they have resources when they may need them. 

  3. Create monthly newsletters: Create a monthly newsletter that offers parenting tips, advice, and reminders about upcoming information sessions and workshops. Newsletters can be tailored to the time of year and different struggles parents are likely facing, for example at the beginning of the school year, gear the newsletter toward suggestions and tips for getting kids and teens back on a school schedule, how to make your child feel confident, or, for young children, how to handle separation anxiety. Newsletters are also an excellent place to list recommended books on specific topics and include your contact information if parents have questions or concerns. Start gathering your ideas in advance of the school year so you have the resources you need on hand. 

  4. Train teachers on mental health awareness: School psychologists can train teachers to identify and address mental health concerns in the classroom. This can help teachers spot early warning signs of anxiety or depression in their students and provide appropriate support. Teachers can then use this knowledge to create a safe and supportive environment in the classroom, helping their students feel comfortable discussing mental health issues and receiving the support they need.  

  5. Establish a crisis response plan: School psychologists and mental health workers should work with school administrators to establish a crisis response plan in a mental health emergency. This plan should include protocols for responding to crises and identifying students who may be at risk. Already have a plan? Now is the time to go through it and make any updates or changes that may be needed. 

  6. Prioritize self-care: It is essential to prioritize your own mental health and well-being. Make time for self-care, such as exercise, meditation, and time with family or friends—and put it on the calendar, just like you would with any other important appointment so you don’t forget to take care of your own needs. 

School psychologists and mental health workers are crucial in preparing for the upcoming school year. By developing and implementing a mental health plan, providing training and resources, and establishing a crisis response plan, you can help ensure that your school is set up to thrive. 


Questions on how to update your PARiConnect account before the school year begins?

Check out “Back to School with PARiConnect” to learn more about what you can do to get your account ready for the new school year.



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