The back to school season can have a big impact on our mental health, as it is often a time of great expectation, excitement, and anxiety. This year however, these emotions might feel heightened as COVID-19 regulations change our understanding of “normal” at school and in our daily lives. Never fear, we have some awesome back to school survival tips to help kick start this unusual year.

Know the COVID-19 Protocols to Keep Everyone Safe:

  • Every school will have different COVID-19 protocols. Whether you are returning to face-to-face classes or are learning virtually, your school has likely outlined what to expect, or what might change throughout the year. Learn your school’s policies and make sure you are following them closely.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t available.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm. Throw away used tissues and wash or sanitize your hands right away.
  • Stick to a small and consistent family and social “bubble”.
  • Practice physical distancing by keeping a 2-metre distance from those outside of your “bubble” whenever possible.
  • Wear a non-medical mask or face covering, especially when you are unable to stay physically distant.
  • Stay home if you are feeling sick.

Do Your Very Best as a Student

  • Recognize that we all have unique needs as learners, and school can be stressful. Set goals that make the most sense for you.
  • Be on time for your classes, even if you are learning virtually.
  • Be prepared by having all your assignments and materials ready. Complete everything to the best of your ability.
  • Always be respectful of the learning needs and rights of others within your school.
  • Ask for clarification when you get stuck or need another explanation. Your teachers want to make sure you understand everything, and school staff are there to support you throughout the year.

Be Open to Meeting New Friends and Get Involved

  • Friendships are crucial to our mental health. Even if you are starting at a new school, have ended up in a class without anyone you know, or are learning virtually, it is important to remember that there are always new friendships to be made. Find out what you have in common with your classmates, and look for new and exciting connections.
  • Consider the “friendfluence”. Friendfluence is the powerful and often unappreciated role that friends—past and present—play in determining our sense of self and the direction of our lives.
  • A great way to meet new friends is to join a club or participate on a sports team. This may look very different with COVID-19 restrictions in place, however, there are still many in-person and virtual options for you to take part in. Check out all the opportunities to find like-minded people in your school and community.

Don’t Pay Attention to Drama or Gossip:

  • Unfortunately, drama, gossip and rumours are often a part of school life. Rise above to ignore or shut down rumours as you hear them.
  • Don’t start rumours. Rumours destroy friendships, create enemies, hurt feelings, and make things worse for everyone. Remember, if someone confides in you, or you learn information that is true, respect the privacy of your peers. If the information is concerning or dangerous, pass it along to a trusted adult and allow them to assist.

Take Care of Your Mental Health and Ask for Help:

  • These are challenging times for young people. School and daily life looks different for everyone and COVID-19 has likely also caused other significant changes for you and your family. You may not have access to your favourite activities or be able to spend time with your friends and loved ones the way you could before. If you are feeling overwhelmed, this is normal.
  • Everyone has to ask for help from time to time. It is OK to reach out to your family, friends, neighbours, or community for support. Whether you need assistance with an assignment or with elements of your personal life, there is always help available.
  • It is important to learn how to be an advocate for your own mental health. Here are some great resources to have on hand:


CMHA Calgary:

Discovery College:

Distress Center (24 hour crisis line): 403-266-HELP (4357)

Connect Teen (5pm-10pm): 403-264-TEEN (8336) or text: 587-333-2724 or

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 or We Matter: Indigenous Youth Support

Connect with CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART and Schedule Mental Health Learning Opportunities for Your School:

  • CMHA Calgary’s YouthSMART Initiative (Youth Supporting Mental Health and Resiliency Together) integrates mental health learning opportunities in local junior and senior high schools. Operating for over a decade, and reaching close to 25,000 students each year, YouthSMART provides education proven to generate an awareness of mental health topics, combat stigma, and encourage appropriate help-seeking behaviours amongst Calgary and area youth.
  • Learning opportunities include workshops on the topics of “Stress Management and Healthy Coping”, “Mental Health Awareness”, “Suicide Prevention”, “Skills for Being There”, and “Community Helpers”. Check out our online platforms for more information, and let us know how you are using the resources!

Web –, Email – info@cmha.calgary.ab.caSocial Media – #SMARTSchoolsYYC , T @CMHACalgaryIG @CMHACalgary, FB @CMHA Calgary Region 

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