Addressing anxiety and stress

Social and Emotional Health > Addressing anxiety and stress

The pandemic has been a source of stress, anxiety, and grief for many students, staff and families. Stressors such as economic loss, illness, death and grief can cause mental health challenges for anyone and can cause acute symptoms to appear for individuals who may experience preexisting mental health challenges.
The school nurse role includes collaboration with school leaders and school-based mental health professionals to identify students and staff experiencing stress and anxiety and help establish a plan to connect those impacted to support services. School nurses serve a vital role in promoting emotional, psychological, and social well-being of students and staff.

Key considerations:

  • Establishing methods to identify students and staff who may be experiencing anxiety or depression.
  • Collaborating with school-based mental health professionals who provide direct support to students who are potentially at risk for emotional issues by helping to implement screening processes in the health suite and referring students as appropriate to support services.
  • Reaching out to students with recent disruptions in face-to-face or virtual school instruction.
  • Encouraging students and staff to talk about their triggers and stressors. School nurses often encounter and identify when students are experiencing situations that are triggers for stress and anxiety.
  • Collaborating with administrators, parents, teachers, families, and health care professionals in ensuring students receive supportive care while in school.
  • Promoting student success by developing and implementing Section 504 plans, the health portion of Special Education Individual Education Program (IEP), and the Individualized Healthcare Plan (IHP).
  • Supporting and contributing to implementing evidence-based programs and curricula in schools which include strategies such as mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing, relaxation, and exercising for students and staff.

NASN Resources

Activating the Planning for the Next Normal at School Playbook

List of NASN mental health resources

Emotion Management K-6 webinar

NASN position statement on behavioral/mental health of students

Mental Health Training Interventions

Mental Health: Tips for Today’s Students and Nurses

APNA Transitions in Practice Certificate Program

Regaining Equilibrium: Stress Management Strategies for Regaining Life's Balance

CDC Resources

Coping with Stress

COVID-19: Managing Stress and Anxiety (Video)

COVID-19 Parental Resource Kit: Ensuring Children and Young People’s Social, Emotional, and Mental Well-being

Supporting Children and Adolescents during COVID-19 (Video)

Other Resources

Student mental health during and after COVID-19: How can schools identify youth who need support? | American Psychological Association

Helping Children Cope with Changes Resulting From COVID-19 | National Association of School Psychologists & NASN

COVID-19 Information and Resources | National Alliance on Mental Illness 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

COVID-19 Information and Resources | American Psychological Association

Continuing Learning: Playbook for Healthy School Communities | Kaiser Permanente

Mental Health Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Teachers and Parents of K-12 Students | CDC Foundation

Resources Shared by School Nurses

See what school nurses have developed or are sharing in NASN's online discussions.