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Healthy bodies, healthy minds: Experts share back-to-school tips to boost resiliency in students

Vancouver – As students of all ages get ready to say goodbye to the summer and hello to a new school year, experts from BC Children’s Hospital are sharing tips to help parents and kids support positive physical and mental health.
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​"When students are active in their bodies and minds, they are more able to learn, be creative, build healthy relationships and try new things," said Dr. Ashley Miller, a psychiatrist with BC Children's Hospital. "Young people can also be more able to cope in healthy ways when faced with stress or feelings of anxiety."

Research shows that children, youth and young adults who participate in regular physical activity and practice self-care activities such as mindfulness are more likely to meet academic goals, improve their memory and focus and boost self-esteem and confidence.

Tips for students:

  • Take a breather: Try practicing mindfulness. It can reduce stress, boost positive emotions, and improve focus and memory.
  • Unplug: Take time to turn off your phone, computer and TV. Try disconnecting and taking time to relax and enjoy hobbies and activities or time with friends and family.
  • Take care of your body: Enjoy regular physical activity, eat nutritious foods and ensure you're getting enough sleep. 
  • Ask for help when you need it: Try talking to someone if you're not feeling like yourself, and access medical help and resources when you need the support.

Tips for parents/caregivers:

  • Prepare for transitions: Whether it's your child's first day of kindergarten or university, try taking steps before school starts to help them work through the change.
  • Start a regular routine: Ease back-to-school stress and anxiety through getting into a regular routine and practicing things like packing lunches or walking to school.   
  • Keep active as a family: Getting active together can increase connectedness and togetherness, which supports positive mental health.
  • Keep the lines of communication open: Parents and caregivers can try talking to their children over meals, taking a walk or during a car ride.
  • Practice self-care: Parents and caregivers should also take steps to ease their own stress. Try practicing mindfulness, talking to a friend or taking a walk.

 Quick facts:

  • Only 35 per cent of five- to 17- year-olds are reaching their recommended physical activity levels as outlined in the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth.
  • Just 62 per cent of three- and four-year-olds are achieving the recommended activity levels for their age group.
  • In addition, 51 per cent of five- to 17-year-olds and 76 per cent of three- and four-year-olds are engaging in more screen time than is recommended for recreational, screen-based sedentary behaviour.
  • According to the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey, 82 per cent of youth in B.C. spent time online or on their phones when they were supposed to be asleep.
  • Children and youth aged 12-14 may need up to 10 hours of sleep per night.

Learn more:
Resources for children, youth, young adults and parents:

  • Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: A provincial resource centre that provides mental-health and substance-use information, resources, and peer support to children, youth and their families from across B.C.
  • Online resources that provides young people aged 12-24 and their families with a one-stop access point for mental-health, well-being and substance-use social support and services, as well as navigation assistance and self-management.
  • Breathr Mindfulness App: An app designed to introduce the concept of mindfulness, offering a variety of mindfulness practices, while also teaching them interesting facts about the brain science behind those practice.
  • MindShift: An interactive app designed to help youth learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help them take charge of their anxiety.
  • Stresslr is a free web app that provides a fun and engaging way for children aged 9-11 to learn about stress, understand how they react to it, and develop healthy strategies to cope with stress in their everyday lives. Stresslr can be used on any computer, tablet or iPhone, and will soon be available on Android devices as well.
  • AnxietyBC: Information on how anxiety can express itself and effective strategies to address it in children, youth and young adults.
  • BC FRIENDS Online Parent Program: An online resource for parents of children in kindergarten to Grade 7. FRIENDS is an anxiety-prevention and resiliency-building curriculum available for use in B.C. classrooms.
  • The Crisis Line Association of BC provides 24/7 linkage to regional crisis and information lines. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) from anywhere in the province to be connected to the nearest available regional crisis line. Access the trained volunteers who offer emotional support, crisis and suicide assessment/intervention, and resource information.
  • The Confident Parents: Thriving Kids program, delivered through the Canadian Mental Health Association's B.C. Division, helps parents address behavioural problems in kids aged three to 12. The free program is delivered by telephone during the day, as well as evenings and weekends, to accommodate busy work and school schedules. 
  • Healthy Families BC: A provincial one-stop online resource for health and wellness information. Whether you are looking for healthy eating tips at home or dining out, programs and supports for becoming more physically active or quitting smoking, or information about healthy lifestyle initiatives where you work, live and play, HealthyFamilies BC is dedicated to helping British Columbians make healthier choices.

BC Children's Hospital, part the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides expert care for the province's most seriously ill or injured children, youth and young adults, including newborns. Child and Youth Mental Health provides a diverse range of specialized and one-of-a-kind tertiary mental health and substance use services for children, adolescents and young adults across the province. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @BCChildrensHosp.

The Provincial Health Services Authority plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across B.C., working with the five geographic health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit



Media Contact:


Heather Puzzella

Communications Officer

Provincial Health Services Authority


PHSA Media line: 778.867.7472


BC Children's Hospital; healthy eating; mental health; Kids
Children's Health
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