By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — With summer winding down, it’s time to head back to school. Doctors say this can be both an exciting and scary time for students.

School is stressful for many students, and that can impact academics, mental health and much more.

Doctors say the signs might not be obvious and kids can have a hard time talking about complicated feelings and thoughts.

As teachers get ready for the new school year, parents are being advised to keep a watchful eye on their students.

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There was a serenade from “Mary Poppins” — “anything can happen if you let,” a teacher sang — at the String Theory School in Philadelphia for teacher orientation as the new school year is about to start.

It’s an upbeat, positive message, but a new student survey from Mental Health America says 48% of 11- to 17-year-olds feel very stressed out.

About what?

Topping the list, 76% are stressed about getting good grades and preparing for the future; 68% struggle with loneliness; and 62% say they have issues with body appearance.

With students facing so much stress, experts say caregivers need to pay attention and be supportive.

“Let them know that you are there to talk to them at the end of the day, make sure you’re available to talk to them if they show any signs of distress before going to school or after school, really try to empathize with their feelings,” Dr. Erin Leonard said. “We shouldn’t wait to take care of our mental health.”

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Mental Health America has launched a new toolkit for the upcoming school year called B4Stage4.

The idea being that the same thing should happen with mental health conditions as it does with cancer treatment, which usually begins before Stage 4.

“Imagine what the world would look like if we got the help we needed,” Leonard said.

The website offers free resources — even quick screenings for depression and anxiety, among other mental illnesses, that you can take at home.

Doctors say half of all mental health disorders begin by the age of 14. They’re common and treatable.

You can find more information on Mental Health America’s B4Stage4 initiative by clicking here.

Stephanie Stahl