Transitioning back to school – tips for young psychiatric patients

September 26, 2016 - Megan Brennan, LMHC & Melissa Ramirez, LMHC

Returning to school after a long summer break can be difficult under the best of circumstances. Getting back into a weekday schedule of classes, homework and extracurricular activities is challenging for every teen. However, for young psychiatric patients, this transition can be particularly stressful.

At Northwell Health’s Early Treatment Program, teens and young adults who are experiencing psychotic symptoms obtain early intervention to reduce symptoms and improve long-term outcomes. This includes helping them successfully return to school as part of their recovery.

Through the Early Treatment Program, patients obtain personalized care from licensed Mental Health Counselors to support their successful return to school. This includes providing them with tips and guidance to ease the transition.

Getting organized

Managing schedules and deadlines is a skill that is particularly important for young psychiatric patients. Being late for a class or missing a homework assignment due to a lack of planning or time management not only creates problems at school, it can create unnecessary stress and trigger negative feelings and emotions. One of the most important strategies recommended by Early Treatment Program counselors is to develop a plan for getting organized. They recommend getting in the habit of using a daily planner, app or gadget to keep track of daily schedules, activities and assignments.

Creating a balanced schedule

It can be overwhelming making the shift from having substantial amounts of downtime to managing a busy school schedule. It’s important to take it slow at first and not overdo it with too many activities. By making time for rest, relaxation and regular exercise, keeping up with a busy schedule is much more manageable.

Working with school personnel

Most schools have staff such as guidance counselors, school psychologists and other personnel who are there to help students, particularly during the transition back to school. Early Treatment Program counselors serve as advocates for patients and work with these personnel to ensure success throughout the school year.

Northwell Health’s Early Treatment Program is modeled after the National Institute of Mental Health’s Early Psychosis Initiative and offers treatment for teenagers and young adults who are experiencing psychotic symptoms for the first time, including:

  • Feeling suspicious or paranoid of others
  • Having unusual thoughts or trouble thinking
  • Unusual or odd behavior
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Hearing or seeing things that others don’t
  • Major changes in eating or sleeping
  • Prolonged periods of feeling “high” or overly happy and outgoing
  • Extreme irritability, agitation, feeling “jumpy” or “wired”

Assistance with returning back to school is just one of many services offered to patients in the Early Treatment Program, available at two convenient locations:

The Zucker Hillside Hospital
75-59 263rd Street
Glen Oaks, New York 11004
(718) 470-8888

Lenox Hill Hospital
100 East 77th Street
New York, NY 10075
(212) 434-2830

We’re here to help

Whether you're experiencing symptoms yourself or searching for help for a friend or family member, confronting mental illness can be hard. But the sooner care starts, the sooner recovery can begin.

To reach out, call (718) 470-8888 or (212) 434-2830 or email us.