Helping Kids Overcome School-Related Anxiety

There are many different kinds of anxiety. School anxiety, a condition that can affect children of all ages, manifests as an excessive fear of school and the activities associated with it, such as making friends, speaking in public, or taking tests. Neurologist and former teacher Ken Schuster, PsyD, says that anxiety “tends to lock up the brain,” making school hard for anxious kids.

Know the Symptoms explains that symptoms of anxiety in children who are 10 and under may include: 

– irritability, crying, yelling, or having a tantrum

– refusal to participate in the process of getting ready for school 

– loss of appetite or nausea as it draws close to time to leave for school 

– nightmares or difficulty sleeping

– headache

– increased heart rate and/or rapid breathing

As students grow older, their anxiety may show itself in the form of external school-avoidance behaviors. Signs of anxiety in children who are in middle and high school will vary across cultures and individual families, but may include

– truancy/excessive absence from class 

– refusal to participate in school activities

– rapid breathing and/or quick heart rate 

– loss of appetite, nausea, or headache

– self-harm behaviors

How to Help

There are many ways to help and support your child through school anxiety. Acting with empathy and compassion, rather than establishing strict rules and punishments is a great place to start. 

Talk openly about feelings and mental health. Make sure to ask questions about school at times when your child is calm. You don’t want to make your child feel interrogated, instead simply give them a chance to make their feelings known so that they feel understood.

Check your Priorities

This is a big one. Sometimes the source of school anxiety may start at home. Take a real honest look at what your parental attitude toward academic success is. This can greatly help children who are afraid of failing.

Get Help From an Expert

Reach out to SouthEnd Psych right away if your child’s anxiety is causing distress or interfering with daily life. Untreated anxiety can lead to other problems, such as depression, substance use disorders, and social isolation. 

Southend Psychiatry is also here to help you navigate conversations with your child’s school personnel to develop a plan. This may include making adjustments to your child’s schedule, providing support in the classroom, or involving your child in social activities outside of school.

Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get your child on their way to a better place.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

5 Ways to Help Your Kids Learn About Mental Health

Mental health concerns aren’t just adult problems. However, many young people who are struggling with their mental health never receive proper care. For example, about 59.8% of young people in America with major depression don’t receive any mental health treatment, according to Mental Health America. This statistic proves that it’s vital to educate your kids about this topic so they can seek help if they need it. If you’re unsure how to begin this process, check out these tips for guidance.

1. Educate Them About Mental Health Terms

Kids should understand terms like depression, anxiety, and other mental health-related words. You can also discuss professionals that work in the field who might be able to help them, like a local psychiatrist. You can teach them by talking about these topics and offering books and online resources that explain mental health in a way that is age-appropriate.

2. Model Mental Health Conversations

Modeling conversations about mental health can show children that it’s an important topic to discuss openly rather than something to be ashamed of. This will prepare them to open up about their mental health and encourage them to speak up if they think someone else might be having difficulty.

3. Help Them Identify Triggers

Identifying triggers is an important component of managing mental health. Some people may have certain events or situations that can instigate episodes of depression, anxiety, or other issues. Teaching your kids about these triggers and warning signs can empower them to recognize when they need to take a step back from a situation and ask for assistance.

4. Encourage Self-Care

Self-care is essential for mental health. Talk to kids about strategies that can care for their emotional well-being. Kids should know it’s good to take time for themselves and do things they find calming or enjoyable. By understanding how sleep, nutrition, and physical activity are connected to mental well-being, kids can protect their mental and emotional health with their daily routines.

5. Seek Professional Help

If you sense that your child might need professional assistance, offer to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist. It’s important to discuss these resources in an open manner so they know they can use them without judgment.

Today’s kids have more mental health stressors than ever before. From cyberbullying to dealing with the effects of a pandemic, American youth have many potential triggers. Starting these conversations about mental health early ensures they have the tools and resources they need. Contact us at SouthEnd Psychiatry so a psychiatrist can help today.

Should I Bring My Child to Speak With a Psychiatrist?

If you’re the parent of a child who is experiencing distress, you may be thinking that you’re alone or that your child is alone. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of children have had a debilitating mental illness at some point in their life or currently have one. If you’re wondering if you should bring your child to a psychiatrist, read on to learn more about your options.

Common Pediatric Mental Illnesses

The most common pediatric mental illnesses include anxiety, depression, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, according to the CDC. Children can experience significant and even debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) long before reaching adulthood. Consequently, a visit to a psychiatrist can be in order when your child is showing distress either from specific issues or from the stresses of everyday life.

Mental Health Services for Children

Children are often much less skilled at managing their emotions than adults. If a child needs help, then this can cause them to struggle with communicating. For example, they may not know how to ask for it or might think they need to hide their struggles to avoid inconveniencing others. These can be issues for adults as well, but parents need to be sensitive to the needs of their children and watch out for such signs.

It can be difficult to balance a kid’s need for privacy with the adult’s duty to watch out for their well-being. Kids need privacy to grow into functional adults, so knowing how much to step in and when to do so can be a real balancing act. Still, when that step is needed, a psychiatrist can help create the space that your child needs to unpack their psychological and medical needs.

How Psychiatrists Can Help

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in treating psychological illnesses. Unlike therapists and psychologists, a psychiatrist is specifically educated in handling medications that treat mental illness in adults and children. Psychiatrists are not the only part of a mental health treatment plan but are necessary for the plan when talk therapy alone will not get the results needed.

If your child is struggling severely with managing their emotions or balancing the stresses of everyday life, it would be beneficial to take them to see a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist can help develop a mental health plan that’ll work to foster your child’s happiness. Contact SouthEnd Psychiatry today to learn more about how we can support your children.

How Do Psychiatrists Treat Mental Health in Adolescents?

A psychiatrist knows how to deal with a child’s emotions and mental health issues. According to a recent Mental Health First Aid study, over half of people’s mental health issues appear by age 14. It’s important to reach out for help when symptoms of emotional trauma or mental health issues show in a child. Here are some of the ways a psychiatrist will assist your child with any type of mental health issue.

They Provide Special Skills Related to Adolescents

Child and adolescent psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and specialized training in psychiatry. They have extra training in the sub-specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry. Psychiatrists take a holistic approach, considering how emotions, social issues, and physical symptoms interact.

They Provide Psychological Treatment

Most professional psychiatrists with children and adolescent skills will provide psychological therapy sessions and psychological treatment to help their younger patients. The most common treatment used with children is psychotherapy, also known as “talking therapy.”

They Provide Specific Medications

For some conditions, medication may be the best way to manage symptoms and make sure that your child can get back to their everyday activities. Child and adolescent psychiatrists are experts at managing medication, side effects, and interactions.

They Provide Behavioral Counseling

Psychiatrists will learn about the child’s environment and what could be changed to help them mentally. There are times when the psychiatrist will recommend those from the immediate family sit in on the behavioral counseling to address the issues together. With the help of a psychiatrist, kids will have more tools to manage their emotions and deal with their daily social challenges better.

Psychiatrists not only help identify mental health conditions but also offer guidance and advice for younger patients when dealing with these conditions. For more information, give SouthEnd Psychiatry a call today.

Parents: 5 Tips to Prevent Bullying

November 15th through 19th is Anti-Bullying Week—a week meant to raise awareness about the prevalence and dangers of bullying across the globe. Roughly 20% of U.S. children and teens in school report being bullied, with 41% of these students indicating that they expect to be bullied again. And these numbers are only growing. With social media (Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) increasingly becoming children and teens’ primary form of communication, bullying is easier than ever…because why do it in person when you can hide behind a computer screen?

If you’re a parent, these statistics aren’t exactly comforting, especially when you consider the effects of bullying. More than physical harm, victims of bullying are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school.

So, what, if anything, can you do to make a difference? Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Ask questions.

Some kids are more communicative than others, but either way, asking your child about their day can go a long way in helping you (and them) identify unsafe people in their midst. Ask, then listen intently to what they have to say. Learn their friends’ names, even the classmates you’ve never met. Stay mindful of patterns, and remember: Bullying isn’t just throwing punches. Verbal assaults and/or antagonistic behavior can be just as harmful to a child’s wellbeing.

  1. Teach your kids how to respond.

Teaching your children emotional intelligence—how to manage their emotions and identify and relate to the emotions of others—is a great way to prepare your child for abusive situations of any kind. Encourage your child to call out bullying when they see it, to ask questions, and on the flip side, to notice the effects of their own actions on peers. For example, when approached by a bully, teaching your child to respond, “Are you being mean to me right now? That is not okay with me,” and then to confide in an adult is much more effective than teaching them to ignore the bully (whose behavior might only escalate).

  1. Set limits.

As we mentioned, cyberbullying is on the rise and can be more difficult to detect than other forms of bullying. This is where limiting the amount of time your child spends on social media is key. Bullies often know no bounds, so helping your child create their own by “signing off” after a certain amount of time sends the message that they need to have boundaries even when others don’t—even when it’s uncomfortable. Also, having “screen-free” hours will give you the chance to connect with your child and monitor their communication as needed.

  1. Be willing to intervene.

Nobody wants to be a helicopter parent, but when it comes to bullying, the “hands off” approach probably isn’t the way to go. If your child is expressing that someone is repeatedly picking on them, first try to understand the situation and your child’s point of view. Then, if possible, show them how to address the situation independently. If it’s clear that the bullying behavior is too severe or will continue, take action. Your child needs to know that you are their greatest advocate and first line of defense.

  1. Emphasize kindness.

This year, the theme of Anti-Bullying Week is One Kind Word, inspired by the idea that positive connections fostered through kindness can break down barriers and make a big difference for someone facing loneliness (Coincidentally, World Kindness Day also falls in November!). And this idea couldn’t be more true. Studies show that kindness increases our sense of connectivity with others, reducing loneliness and enhancing both our mood and interactions. It really is contagious!

So, perhaps the best way you can help prevent bullying is to make sure your child doesn’t become a bully themselves. Create a culture of kindness in your home, and apply the Golden Rule as often as you can in both speech and practice.

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Staying Abreast of What’s Best for Your Mental Health

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and it’s necessary to take a look at how it can affect one’s mental health, both positively and sometimes negatively. As a mother, we want to do what’s best, but does that always mean the breast?

What do the Experts Say?

For babies, breastfeeding is recommended by the American Pregnancy Association as the most nutritionally balanced meal as it helps protect against common infections and increases the survival rate in the first year of life. But, how does it benefit the mother? From increased confidence and self-esteem to lowering the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, there are many benefits to breastfeeding.

Additionally, there are two hormones produced when breastfeeding: oxytocin and prolactin. These two hormones promote stress reduction, positive feelings and lessen the risk of postpartum depression. The American Psychological Association reports that 1 in 7 will be diagnosed with what is otherwise known as the “baby blues,” and breastfeeding is a great way to combat this disease that has affected many new mothers. 

The Pressure to Breastfeed.

On the flip side, can the pressure to breastfeed exclusively affect your mental health? Psychologists and real-life moms say YES! When it comes to what is best for the baby, a healthy mother takes precedence.

“Breastmilk does not care for, nurture and bond with the baby. A mother does. I am not arguing the health benefits of breastfeeding. Those are known facts. I am talking about the part that just isn’t talked about enough: a mom’s mental health.”

Carrie Bruno, a lactation specialist, writes in a Today’s Parent article

Viable options are available now more than ever to help supplement and dissolve the feeling of inadequacy, stress, or pure exhaustion. When the pains and strains of exclusively breastfeeding feel overwhelming, it may be time to take a step back and make a new plan. In the end, you have to let go of the societal pressures and do what is best for you.

Moms, this is your decision!

We recommend you surround yourself with supportive people. Discuss options with your doctor and lactation specialist, join a support group online or in-person, and most importantly, trust your instincts!

If you think you may be struggling with postpartum depression, please reach out to someone that can help – schedule an appointment with our team or call or text the Postpartum Support International helpline at 1-800-944-4773

Our Resilient Children Need Healthy Parents

As we trudge (seems an appropriate verb, some days) through the first months of a new year, we’re still blanketed by many of our old stresses. The environment is hard for mothers and fathers who have seen their routines and schedules materially disrupted.  And so I’m led to remind you all – THIS IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT. So, what in the world do I mean by those words, exactly?

I mean…. Breathe. Pause. Be patient. We’re still in the midst of the pandemic. Our socio-political landscape remains volatile. Unemployment won’t be a quick fix either. Further, our children are still challenged with the uncanny mixture of in-person vs. remote class learning.  The point is that we have a chance to set our expectations properly, for the long term, so we can be the best parents we can be for our children. So, to be direct, I encourage you to settle in, accept this new normalcy and stop waiting for things to be “normal” again. Our kids are resilient and they need us to be well strong and healthy! 


If you are unbalanced and unwell as a mother or father, it makes sense that you won’t be fit to best care for your children and healthily guide them through these rough waters. One option we all have from time to time is to unplug, whatever that means for you. And do it without guilt! Not always easy as a parent, I know… But the fact is we are all juggling so much and every person must have a healthy path to recharge and reset. Just do so with open communication… but taking the necessary “me time” is a MUST!


This is the one which sometimes hits me between the eyes, figuratively speaking. Specifically, we all have the ability to choose where our mental + emotional focus lie – in the negative or the positive. The world isn’t going to change, but where I spend my energy can, and I want to be sure to spend it well. For a real-life example, I have a high-stress career which I absolutely love with all of my soul. One trade-off is that for several years of my young son’s life I didn’t see him very much. A little bit in the morning, and an hour or two before bedtime in the evenings at best. Ugh. But today, as so much of our lives (including my practice!) is remote/virtual, I’m blessed to be with my son at home more, knowing he’s just in the other room. This is precious time to me and I’m choosing to find the GRATITUDE in it.


This idea relates to my previous thoughts on unplugging. I’m giving you room, right here, right now – to set healthy boundaries when and where you need them. One boundary may be taking the room to be imperfect. To make mistakes. To get bad news. Please let me remind you – SETBACKS DO NOT EQUAL FAILURE. Setbacks do not equal failure. I said it twice because I’m making a point. And as always, when considering your partner and loved ones, keeping open communication is healthy when defining what your boundaries are, but self care cannot be understated these days.

Self care tips for parents

I hope you took even a bit of encouragement away from this article – I know firsthand how hard parenting in this environment can be. But I thank you for being part of the SouthEnd journey!

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