James Brescia

SLO County Superintendent James Brescia

A new school year, new job, new living arrangement, and even a new relationship can cause stress. For many, the fall means back to school, a return to routine, or time to begin a new term. Some view the fall as a chance to make a fresh start and an opportunity to make new friends. However, individuals with challenges such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities and depression may find transitions difficult. These transitions can be particularly challenging for individuals with mental health concerns because they can struggle with friendships, may have difficulty relating to teachers, or may experience feelings of discontent. If you have a loved one, friend, colleague, or acquaintance that is dealing with a mental health issue, there are ways you can assist with transitions. Local school officials and North County centers such as the LINK can identify available services and support youth and families to connect with needed services.
For many preschool, elementary, middle, and high school students transitions to a different school can signify social and educational development. Regular events such as puberty, changing schools, making friends and accepting more autonomy are considered a rite of passage. Often the physical environment in which the transition occurs is larger in size and expectations. When compared to the smaller, single-teacher environment of an elementary school, students at the middle or high school meet multiple teachers and differing expectations. Transitioning to the workplace or college can also cause stress, further challenging those with disabilities.
Young adults with mental health issues can face difficulties, from getting educational accommodations to accessing affordable, high-quality mental health care. The transition to college or the workplace may also require some planning. If an individual is overwhelmed by the process of getting ready for post-secondary education, there are organizations such as Transition Year that can help. People may assume that the major obstacle in adjusting to campus life or the workplace will be academic. However, research shows that emotional issues are most likely to interfere with success during transitions, even young adult transitions.
There is no “right” routine for back to school time. Stress reducing methods include:

  • Time Buffer – If something takes longer than planned, extra time reduces anxiety.
  • Individual Path – Personal preference in completing tasks can reduce stress.
  • Group Support – Agreement and support reduces anxiety.
  • Task Lists – Breaking tasks into parts may reduce the stress and simplify the process.

Fall transitions can be difficult for individuals with stress-related issues, but anticipating and working to counteract problems in advance can assist with transitional anxiety. San Luis Obispo County residents have access to 2-1-1 SLO County, a free program, that is a one-stop way to obtain timely access to health and human services and referrals. Together we make our community stronger.