A Back-to-School Checklist for School and Mental Health Professionals

Aug 18, 2023 by News at PrairieCare

As you gear up for the school year, do you have the resources you need to support your clients or students—and yourself, too? A new survey ranks healthcare and education among the top 10 most stressful fields to work in. While the rewards of these careers outweigh the challenges, we can’t experience the joyful moments as fully when we’re burnt out or don’t have the right tools and information to do our jobs. 


Here we provide ways to help teens and young adults care for their mental health and access treatment when needed. We’ve also included approaches for enhancing your own well-being as you do this all-important work. Thank you for all you do for our young people! 



Your Mental Health Checklist for the Back-to-School Season

Get set up for fall with helpful tools, practices, and support systems. You’ll find details below—plus we’ve created a checklist for you to download, with links to handouts and more information. Keep it on your desktop or print it out, so you can easily access it for support when you need it!


Download your checklist!


5 Ways to Get Ready for Fall 

Learn the signs that a client or student needs additional support. 

Here are some of the behaviors indicating that a young person needs mental health services—or a higher level of care than they are currently receiving, such as residential treatment, inpatient hospitalization, or an outpatient program. 

In therapy sessions, mental healthcare providers can watch and listen for these behaviors, which may indicate that a client needs additional support. 

  • A breakdown in school performance 
  • Lack of interest in activities and friends they previously enjoyed 
  • Family conflict  
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Trouble with law enforcement 
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol  
  • Disordered eating patterns 
  • Anger-management issues  
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or suicidal 
  • Withdrawal and self-isolation 

School professionals at high schools and colleges can watch for these signs in students, and consult with families and mental health professionals on the best path forward. 

  • Inappropriate or aggressive behavior in class 
  • Not participating in class discussions 
  • Changes in personal hygiene 
  • Seeming tired all the time 
  • Repeated absences 
  • Inability to concentrate 
  • Not handing in or doing poorly on assignments 
  • Focusing on suicidal thoughts or other troubling content in classwork 


Provide young people and families with mental health resources. 

Provide students, clients, and families with information on how to access crisis hotlines, emergency support, and mental health resources. You can download or print out our at-a-glance one-sheets to share with young people and families. 

Download our resource sheet. 


Grow your knowledge and skillset through continuing education. 

Stay inspired and up to date on mental health trends and treatment approaches. Continuing education events also provide a sense of connection and peer support. 

PrairieCare Education Series (PES) is a monthly educational webinar open to the public and external clinicians to provide attendees with information primarily related to psychiatric issues in adults, children and adolescents. The topics chosen are those related to issues and diagnoses that are frequently treated through PrairieCare’s programs, as well as topics gathered by our participants and community.  


Avoid burnout by building self-compassion. 

The education and mental healthcare fields are two of the most stressful work environments. And chronic stress can put you at risk for physical and mental health conditions. To alleviate stress and avoid compassion fatigue, activate self-compassion. Multiple studies have found that self-compassion can reduce the risk of burnout by lowering stress, depression, and anxiety and enhancing optimism, happiness, and resilience. 

Try this self-compassion practice using supportive touch: 

  • When you notice you’re under stress, take two or three deep, full breaths. 
  • Gently place your hand over your heart, feeling the gentle pressure and warmth of your hand. If you wish, place both hands on your chest. 
  • Feel the touch of your hand on your chest. You can make small circles with your hand on your chest. 
  • Feel the natural rising and falling of your chest as you breathe in and out. 
  • Linger with the feeling and really take it in. 

Download our resilience toolkit, with more practices like this for teens, young adults, and parents/professionals. 


Connect with PrairieCare’s Assessment and Intake Department (AID). 

Starting with just one phone call, our AID Team can provide support in the following ways:  

For Patients 

  • The first point of contact for new and current patients. 
  • Help navigate a care plan, treatment level, and any questions along the way. 

For Parents and Caregivers 

  • Manuever the journey with families and caregivers as their loved one receives treatment. 
  • Work with families to ensure their voices are heard and their concerns or questions are answered. 

For Healthcare Providers 

  • Provide a no cost mental health screening via phone to anyone seeking psychiatric services. 
  • An avenue to refer patients to the appropriate program or service. 

Contact the team at 952-826-8475. 


Visit our blog for content on all things mental health related.

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