GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The reality of heading back to school is settling in for most students, and with that comes excitement and even anxiety.

Samuel Jones, a licensed professional counselor who owns Wisdom Center Counseling Services, suggests parents and teachers should learn how to support the children in their care.

“Based on their experience with their teachers, classmates, after-school activities, all those things really play a factor in how they really are feeling or what their mood may be like as they’re adjusting to that school environment,” Jones said.

Jones suggests parents be intentional about having conversations with their kids. He says sometimes it requires you to let go of your own opinions and expectations and get on their level.

“It’s important that when whenever a child is going through some level of emotional change and kind of cognitive change, you foster an environment where you’re kicking it with them during their favorite video game, or you might be doing some type of activity where you’re being really intentional over dinner, taking them out to lunch,” he said.

Jones added that teachers and school administrators should also normalize conversations about mental health. He suggests it even be part of their curriculum.

“Don’t be afraid to work with your administrators to be like, ‘Hey, can we bring somebody in? I wanna bring a therapist in or somebody in who’s a school counselor to just come on and talk to my kids for one day out of the calendar week or one day out the month, just to encourage our students,'” Jones said.

News 8 spoke with students in the area about their needs related to their mental health. You can hear directly from them in the full story airing on Sunday, Aug. 21.