At back-to-school time, kids' backpacks are not the only thing weighing them down

    MONTREAL, Aug. 26 /CNW/ - As back-to-school time gets closer, many
parents may be hearing some familiar refrains: "I don't feel good," or "I have
a stomach ache". These statements often mask the anxiety that some children
and teens face as September approaches. That's why it's important for kids and
parents to know that Kids Help Phone's professional counsellors are available
24 hours a day to help young people from Quebec, and across Canada, who need
to talk about back-to-school anxiety or anything else that has them feeling
stressed out or concerned.
    "In late July, we start getting calls and answering questions online
having to do with back-to-school time, particularly on the subject of starting
back to secondary school," says Alexandre, a counsellor at Kids Help Phone.
"Kids who have just finished primary school are apprehensive about secondary
school. They have preconceived ideas about gangs, drugs and the workload. They
often feel uprooted, faced with leaving their old friends behind, going to a
new neighbourhood and meeting new teachers."
    For many young people, heading back to school is an exciting time that
means reconnecting with friends, meeting new people and learning new and
interesting things. But for others, it means facing a place where
competitiveness reigns, where they are evaluated on a daily basis and where
they often feel judged by their classmates. For these kids, school can be a
place where rivalries are created and power relationships are established. The
fear of not making friends, or of being isolated because of religious,
financial, cultural or physical differences can contribute to loneliness,
taunting and even bullying.
    Kids Help Phone counsellors often hear from kids who are overwhelmed by
the idea of having to decide a future career at a young age, or who are having
trouble how school relates to what's happening in their lives today or in the
future. Kids also call to talk about the added pressure to perform they get at
    "Going to school, for some kids, also means falling back into the daily
trials and tribulations of bullying or scholastic failure. When these students
call us, they are already discouraged and anxious, before they've even gone
back for the first day of school," says Andrée-Anne, a counsellor at Kids Help
Phone. "They have a very negative image of school. Our job is to provide them
with suggestions for solutions to help them to change their situation and, in
this way, to start the school year on a new, positive footing."
    Kids Help Phone encourages students experiencing back-to-school stress to
talk to the adults in their lives and work with them to develop a plan for
making the transition in September a smooth one. Teachers and parents are key
in this process, and Kids Help Phone counsellors can help young callers
connect with these resources.
    Kids and teens call and post online questions to Kids Help Phone about
every issue imaginable. But every year, going back to school and the problems
that go with it loom large - especially during the month of August.
    "Listen, I have a huge problem. I don't want to go to secondary school. I
cry every day. I want to stay in grade 8 with my younger friends! I don't want
to go into grade 9...How can I fit in? What can I do? I'm tired of crying, but
I don't want to go to secondary school! I throw fits even though I know that
won't do a thing to change my situation. Unfortunately, I have to keep going
to school..." (actual post from, July 2008)
    If you or someone you know is feeling anxious about heading back to
school, or needs to talk about any other problem or issue, Kids Help Phone's
professional counsellors can be reached 24 hours a day at 1-800-668-6868 or

    About Kids Help Phone

    Kids Help Phone is Canada's only free, 24-hour, bilingual and anonymous
phone and online counselling, referral and information service for children
and youth. Every day, professional counsellors provide immediate, confidential
and caring support to young people living in urban, rural and remote locations
right across the country. Children and youth contact Kids Help Phone about
every issue imaginable - from school, dating and family problems, to
bullying/cyber-bullying, addiction and abuse. In 2007, Kids Help Phone touched
the lives of children and youth in need from almost 3,000 Canadian communities
more than two million times through its phone and online services.
    Established in 1989, Kids Help Phone is recognized internationally as a
leader in the delivery of phone and online counselling to kids. This charity
employs more than 100 highly skilled counsellors and benefits from the support
of more than 10,000 fundraising volunteers in over 50 communities from coast
to coast, and the commitment of a growing number of leading Canadian companies
and their employees.

For further information:

For further information: Myriam Huzel, Communications Coordinator, (514)
273-7007, extension 8230,

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