CMHO x Casey Palmer — “Making Back-to-School Not so Cruel in the Midst of a Global Pandemic”

With the start of the schoolyear afoot and an impossible decision on our hands, I found myself wondering how to write about the things we’ve discussed ad nauseam since the pandemic started. How much we parents are struggling, trying to take care of our children with limited resources—especially with school here and every choice feeling like a bad one. Or what it’s like living in a world where turning a blind eye to racism is more passé than ever, leaving us wondering how we can fix the problem that took centuries to create. 2020’s undoubtedly been a year for the books, but it’s not quite over yet—school’s back, and it’ll be stranger than ever before.

Back-to-school, circa 2019 — who even knows what it’ll look like this year?

Back-to-school was already tough enough for kids in the pre-COVID world, a million questions rushing through their heads as they start a new school year ahead. Will they fit in? Are their outfits on point? What stories can they tell when people ask about their summers? It may be a distant memory for many of us, but those first few days often set the tone for the year to come, and everyone wants to start it off on the right foot.

But that’s only if you have the luxury of those being your biggest problems.

Fact is, the COVID-19 pandemic has made things so much more difficult, and it’s hard to see how we’re going to figure things out.

CMHO’s COVID-19 Research: Numbers Don’t Lie.

Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) research shows that lower-income youth are reporting that they’re struggling with mental health issues due to COVID, and it’s no surprise—we’ve heard time and again how the pandemic is disproportionately affecting those who were already disenfranchised well before we even knew that a coronavirus was a thing.

Low-income communities. Black communities. They’re taking more than their fair share of the brunt of everything happening due to COVID-19—recent data from Toronto Public Health, for example, shows that 21% of Toronto’s COVID-19 cases are Black people, while Black people only make up 9% of our population—and it’ll have some serious repercussions.

Lower academic achievement. Fewer social and academic supports. For far too many kids, back-to-school was tough enough already, but in a world full of pandemic protocols, it might be nothing short of impossible.

But neither they nor the parents who care for them need to deal with it alone.

The CMHO Back-to-School Mental Health Kit, helping parents prepare for the school year ahead!

This September, Children’s Mental Health Ontario (CMHO) wants Ontarian families to know that there are a wealth of resources that can help make the back-to-school season a little more bearable:

  • Find help at a child and youth mental health centre across the province, there to help parents through this difficult time so they can be of the best help to their children
  • Check out CMHO’s Back-to-School Mental Health Kit for valuable resources including Six Tips to Support Your Child’s Mental Wellness or Mental Wellness and Pandemic Prevention
  • Also, check out posts by leading Canadian parenting author Ann Douglas on how parents can help prepare their kids for back to school
  • And also continuing to connect with CMHO through their social media posts and newsletters, because it’s not like the pressures suddenly stop after the first week of school, right?

So while we might not really know what the school year ahead has in store, it’s important that we arm ourselves with everything we need to get through it as safely as possible. The pandemic isn’t over, but we know a little more today than when it started all those weeks ago. If you’re looking for the tools to help you do that, let CMHO help—they’re only a click away.

Here’s hoping we can make the most of the year ahead, despite the challenges in this brave new world.

Good luck out there, everyone—let’s take it one challenge at a time.

Until the next post, Casey out.

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By Casey E. Palmer

Calling the Great White North his home, Casey‘s spent the last few decades in pursuit of creating killer content. From novels as a kid, comics as a teen, to blogs and photos once he could grow a beard, he’ll use whatever’s around him to create amazing stuff.

When he’s not creating, he’s parenting, exploring and trying to make life as awesome as possible for everyone around him.

Because a boring life’s not a life worth living!

2 replies on “CMHO x Casey Palmer — “Making Back-to-School Not so Cruel in the Midst of a Global Pandemic””

Good post. Great resource from CMH. My greatest concern during COVID-19 has been the Mental Health concerns for all of us. Children need good role models. So discussing one’s own concerns with our children keep it in front of us. I also believe in resilience. Learning from all experiences. Ensuring our children that sometimes just being able to stand on our own two feet and keep going is good enough. Love the pics of your boys. Happy School Challenge to all our kids.

Barbara, thanks for your comment!

You’re right—mental health is a huge concern from all of this; I can’t even start to imagine what the long-term effects from the pandemic are going to be on our society, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

But yes, in the meantime, patience, open communication, approaching our kids with understanding… sometimes that just has to be enough. I appreciate your words—here’s hoping for the best possible days we can have ahead!

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