5 health tips for back-to-school
The best way for your child to have a great school year is to give them a healthy one. And with COVID-19 infections once again on the rise, there’s more that goes into your child’s health this year than ever before.
Need advice on knowing where to begin? Our health experts put together this back-to-school checklist to give you and your child everything they need to have a happy, healthy school year.
1. Stay up to date with vaccines
Tetanus, Polio, and Hepatitis B are among the vaccines required or recommended by the Wichita School District. But your primary care provider may recommend additional vaccines such as the flu shot, or COVID-19 vaccine.
“Vaccines are important for children’s health. They’re safe and highly effective.” says Dr. Conrad Agustin, Hunter Health Pediatrician. “Vaccinations afford protection against certain transferable diseases which could have severe consequences.”
With COVID-19 still out there, it’s important to create good health habits like washing hands before meals, regularly using hand sanitizer, packing a refillable water bottle, and wearing a mask at school and on the bus.
2. Check on their mental health
Mental health concerns are increasing at an alarming rate since the pandemic began, with screenings jumping 500% since 2019. Nearly one in five Americans live with a mental health condition, with the majority made up of young adults age 18-25 (over 30%). The National institute of Health says less than half of those with a mental health condition receive care each year.
“There’s a number of things you can do right now to improve your mental health,” says Dr. Kaitlin Boger, Director of Integrated Care. “That includes exercising, eating well, getting regular sleep each night, and managing stress.”
At Hunter Health, we provide an integrated model of care with access to behavioral health support at the time of the medical visit. If you have any concerns about how your child is coping with back-to-school, Hunter Health’s Integrated Care Consultants specialize in childhood behavioral health conditions. Together, we can help find care options that best fit the unique situation your child is in.
“Help your child develop healthy ways to manage stress. Go for a walk together, or do any of their favorite activities with them. Find ways to help them relax, and it will serve them for the rest of their lives.”
You can learn more about our unique model of integrated care here.
3. Get a bright and shiny smile
Good dental hygiene is a key part of your child’s overall health. Brushing and flossing regularly reduces the risk of other health issues caused by the bacteria in their mouth, which can enter the bloodstream or be inhaled, causing other issues down the road. Dental Director Dr. Hunter says it all starts with what you eat.
“Nutrition is the key. Limit sticky carbohydrates like crackers and cereals,” she says. “Incorporate brushing twice a day and flossing daily into your routine. Visit your dentist twice a year to prevent toothaches. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
4. Share health concerns with your child’s school
Another key back-to-school health step is by keeping schools informed of any health concerns. Check to see that your child’s emergency phone numbers are up to date and make sure the school has contact info for your child’s doctor and dentist.
Tell the school if your child has any medical condition or if they are on medications that may affect their activity. Schools also need to know if kids have any allergies that might cause health problems.
“Teachers and staff are not always going to ask these questions,” says Dr. Agustin. “It’s important to communicate any potential health concerns to reduce the risk of unexpected problems.”
5. Schedule a back-to-school wellness exam
One of the best and most simple ways to ensure a healthy back-to-school for your child is by scheduling a wellness exam. Dr. Conrad Agustin provides pediatric care for your child, as well as care for teens and adults. Schedule a wellness exam for your child today by calling (316) 262-2415, and ensure they’ll have a healthy, happy start to the new school year.