Quick Tips to Combat Back to School Blues & Anxiety



We’re halfway through August, and–dare I say it–the dreaded *September* is almost upon us.

For most adolescents, the thought of going back to school can muster some discomfort. It’s always sad when summer ends (though, maybe not for parents). And, as the reality of classes, tests, and homework sets in, so too does the anxiety.

Returning to school might also mean facing a bully, ex-girlfriend or boyfriend, or a difficult teacher again.

Unfortunately, the safe haven of summer doesn’t last forever. The start of school is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be so bad. With these quick tips, you can tackle the school year head-on, hopefully, with a little less apprehension.


No two school years are the same. If you failed eighth grade math or sat alone in the cafeteria last year, that doesn’t mean that this year is doomed. Look at the upcoming year as a fresh opportunity to be the best you.

Last year’s disappointments should only enter the present moment in terms of lessons learned. If you struggled with note-taking, try a new approach (like these).

This goes for parents too. Avoid reminders of what your child did wrong last year. Instead, encourage them to build responsible habits, in general.


Think about your ideal school year. (Skipping school every day is not an option.) What are you hoping to achieve? Do you want to make new friends, mend broken friendships, or improve your time management skills?

Set achievable goals for each month, marking period, or for the year. Come back to these goals and reflect. If you did achieve your goal, reward yourself. Then, think about the next step.

If you didn’t achieve your goal, that’s okay too. Think about what you could have done differently. Break down your goal into smaller, more manageable steps, or identify a parent, teacher, or counselor that you can ask for advice.


For many, contacting a counselor or therapist is reactionary. Instead, be proactive. At the start of the school year, identify a trusted teacher or counselor that you can go to if you need help. Set up a meeting to discuss your fears and your goals for the year, and work with them to create a plan.

Talk to your parents about meeting regularly with a therapist outside of school. A therapist can provide more individualized support and help you to build coping skills without disrupting your school day. If you’re worried about talking to your parents about therapy, ask your school counselor for advice.

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John Mopper

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John is Therapist with Blueprint Mental Health, where he primarily treats adolescents and young adults struggling with depression, anxiety and personality disorders. John has a graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and was foundationally trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). In addition, John was a primary therapist on GenPsych’s DBT adherent team. Throughout his time on this team, he visited over 60 schools in New Jersey and conducted trainings for school counselors on the use of DBT in a school setting. In his free time, John enjoys walking his one-year-old Yellow Labrador, Toby around Somerville, NJ where he lives, cooking and checking out new restaurants.