American Heart Association Offers Expertise to Help Prepare Children for Return to School

Given the challenges of children being at home for nearly half the year, the American Heart Association (AHA) is offering some expert advice from national volunteer and child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Larry D. Mitnaul, M.D., MPH, MS, about the importance of mental health to children’s and teens’ overall physical wellness. Dr. Mitnaul talks about realistic situations to discuss the effects of pandemic-related stress and anxiety on children and offer tips for parents and caregivers to help prioritize mental health.

Sometimes you can identify issues in your child’s behavior or speech, Dr. Mitnaul said, so talking with them at mealtimes or during family time allows parents to gauge where the kids are and help them develop their emotional language. If they’re feeling apprehensive, frustrated, or anxious about the unknown, bring those things up and talk about them and work through them.

Other associated AHA resources on include science-based information about kids’ nutrition, physical activity, and screen time as stay-at-home orders loosen. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, experts say returning to a consistent pattern of healthy habits as soon as possible is vital for children because a healthy routine can help kids feel better, improve mental health, and decrease and prevent conditions such as anxiety and depression.

For more information about the American Heart Association, visit or call (402) 875-7382.