Summer & Mental Health: Structure vs Freedom


As the school year winds down there can be a bump in anxiety levels.  Although we all look forward to sunny days—anxiety and other mental health issues can creep in. 

The “Dog Days of Summer” quickly envelop us and my mind wanders to the … KIDS! Though my own are now adults, I remember how, after initial excitement, the summer can begin to drag. And with it, a whole host of issues: from boredom on one end of the spectrum to activity overload on the other.

Many imagine idyllic, do-nothing days of relaxing and recharging. However, sometimes the lack of structure can bring uncertainty and discomfort. Let’s see…thunderstorms, swimming lessons, deep end of the pool; camp, ticks and Lyme disease, sunburns, fireworks and let’s not forget the undertow.

Here’s a tip for handling these challenges without increasing the worry.  Teach problem solving and preparation as an alternative to the danger discussion.  Encourage your children (and the adults around you) to be proactive. Focus on teaching problem solving skills in anticipation of times of trouble. And remember to always reach out for help, if it’s needed.

Tammie Elkins, M.M.F.T.

Tammie is a Marriage and Family Therapist at Lantern Lane Farm - Counseling Center.