School holidays


Hundreds of thousands of school children are at the start of their school holidays.  For many children and their parents, however, this time of year represents a real danger zone for mental health.   A leading support service says it’s important that people are prepared and encouraged to take the positive step of reaching out if they are struggling to cope.

drummond street services specialises in helping children, and parents, struggling to cope with changes in routine, the pressures of Christmas holidays, and the looming sense of dread about ‘stepping up’ to the demands of a new school year.

A recent report suggested that more than 550,000 Australian children aged 4-17 years have experienced some type of mental health issue during the past 12 months.   The holiday period can have a negative impact on those dealing with personal issues.

“Relationships can come under real pressures at this time of year, and some members of the community are more vulnerable than others,” notes drummond street child psychologist, Marie Hirst.

“Children, in particularly those with ADHD and general anxiety – their anxiety can increase with changes in routine, while children who have lost a family member can feel their loss more acutely at this time of get-togethers, and there is also evidence of a spike in cyber-bullying during the holiday period.

“For adults – parents can feel under pressure – without the respite that school provides them – and studies have shown that parental stress can increase at this time of the year, something which can impact back onto children.”


  • Holidays and Christmas can place financial stress on families. Try to remember children flourish when they spend time connecting and having fun with the important people in their lives – it doesn’t need to involve spending money e.g. play ball or board games, go to the park, have a walk.
  • Routines are important – when school is out it’s easy to let routines go – but they give children a sense of security and predictability.  Try to plan the day ahead and stick to key times such as meal times.  Monitor screen-time and on-line use closely.
  • Make sure children get plenty of sleep – holiday time tends to be a bit more relaxed but children get cranky when they don’t get enough sleep so try to stick as close to their normal bed time as possible.
  • Look after yourself – it can also be a time of increased stress for parents and carers. Some self-care can go a long way e.g. talk to a friend, go for a walk, do some exercise.
  • It is a positive step to ask for help if you need it.