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Going Back to School? R.E.L.A.X.

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AmeriHealth Caritas offers tips for coping with new school year stress

Going back to school can be both exciting and stressful for children.
There is the excitement of a new year and the new opportunities
presented by advancing a grade level. But this annual occasion also
marks the return of homework, exams, social pressure to compete with
their classmates, and other challenges. This can lead to stress, which
can take a physical and mental toll on children.

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Infographic courtesy AmeriHealth Caritas

Infographic courtesy AmeriHealth Caritas

"You may notice that your child is avoiding responsibilities, having
trouble sleeping, acting angry, or just feeling sad or depressed. While
you shouldn't let these symptoms linger, you also don't need to take
drastic steps to relieve them," says Dr. Andrea Gelzer, senior vice
president of medical affairs for AmeriHealth
Caritas
, a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other health
care solutions for those most in need. "Some simple activities can help
your children cope with the stress that often comes with the return of
classes, homework, and other school-related pressures."

It can also be a stressful time for parents, particularly those with
lesser financial means or parents of children with disabilities. In
addition to helping their children cope with their stress, they must
find money to pay for school supplies, school lunches, and after school
care.

Income, education, and food access are some of the social determinants
of health, or factors in people's lives that can influence their health.
As a national managed care company committed to addressing social
determinants of health, AmeriHealth Caritas' Medicaid health plans hold
or participate in back to school events in a number of states. These
programs include backpack giveaways, health screenings, and/or other
activities that can help children start the school year on a healthy and
happy note. In other states, similar events are often organized by
churches, community health centers, and other local organizations during
August.

AmeriHealth Caritas offers the following additional tips for parents to
help their children start the school year on a happy note:1

Rest: Make sure your children
gets enough of it

Children need plenty of sleep under normal circumstances (nine hours per
night is recommended), but especially during stressful times. To help
their children sleep soundly, parents should reduce their children's
television time and have them avoid caffeinated drinks late in the day.
Quieter activities, such as reading, will help them wind down.

Emphasize your children's
strengths

You should encourage your children to use their strengths in a positive
way. Spending time with friends also helps lessen stress.

Look for healthy outlets for
stress

Physical activity is not only an important component of physical health.
It also can help you cope with mental stress. You can also encourage
your children to listen to music or find hobbies that make them happy.

Axe your bad mood by getting
outside

The weather is often still summer-like when the school year begins.
Being outside can boost your childrens' mood. Taking a few extra minutes
to spend time outdoors each day can make a big difference in their state
of mind.

About AmeriHealth Caritas

AmeriHealth Caritas is part of the Independence Health Group in
partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. AmeriHealth Caritas
is one of the nation's leaders in health care solutions for those most
in need. Operating in 15 states and the District of Columbia,
AmeriHealth Caritas serves approximately 5.3 million Medicaid, Medicare
and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its
integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical benefit management and
specialty pharmacy services, behavioral health services, and other
administrative services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth
Caritas is a mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of
experience serving low-income and chronically ill populations. For more
information, visit www.amerihealthcaritas.com.

1 "Back to school: Exciting and stressful!" Healthy Now
(Select Health of South Carolina member newsletter) Summer 2017: p. 5.

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