SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — School and mental health professionals across Siouxland told KCAU 9 they continue to see increased stress levels in students as well as depression as classes go back into session, but for some students the issue can be more serious.

“Really at the start of the year it’s kinda trying to figure out who’s just got those normal jitters versus who has developed some anxiety with being away from the classroom for so long,” said Victoria Mason, a licensed marriage and family therapist for Siouxland Mental Health.

Mason said while stress and depression are common during back to school days, anxiety is a growing issue facing returning students.

“With the pandemic and having been away from those social settings for a few years kinda on and off. We’re getting accelerated, heightened anxiety this year,” said Mason.

Mason encourages parents to make sure their kids get plenty of sleep and stay hydrated. Easily the first steps to help reduce anxiety.

Kelli Rahn, a counselor at South Sioux city Middle School, said it is important for students to talk about their feelings and not suppress what might be bothering them.

“The goal is not to eliminate anxiety but to manage it. That’s really the important thing we want parents to know. avoiding anxiety is really impossible so we have to give kids strategies,” said Rahn.

One way to help manage anxiety is by planning out the day. Even something as simple as planning what’s for breakfast each day can make a difference.  

Rahn said by parents simply asking their child how their day was and listening is important.

“Sometimes kids struggle with anxiety or feeling unsure about change and something new. I think for parents it’s really important to acknowledge those feelings, those are real feelings, but not to dwell on them,” said Rahn.

According to Rahn, the first month of any new school year is the hardest for students. Getting back into school routines and meeting new people add to what can be a difficult transition for kids.