Some things

​to think about


Remember the thrill of putting the kids back on the bus after their long summer vacation and then going home to listen to … SILENCE? The good old days of 2019, when the most stressful part of going back to school was sourcing the unruled notebook paper on the school supplies list?

Like pretty much everything else, COVID-19 took the thrill and carefree joy out of back to school and replaced it with a mountain of stress, worry, uncertainty, and anxiety. The 2021 back to school season makes the stress we had in the pre-pandemic days seem like recess. Schools in California are set to return to in-person classes next month, just as the Delta variant has started teaching us a lesson. As the buses start to roll out and collect our innocent little kids, many of whom are too young for vaccinations, how are we supposed to balance our natural concern and stress with the importance of putting knowledge in those spongy minds?

We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19, but so many questions remain.

  • What will the classroom look like?
  • Will everyone wear a mask?
  • How good are these kids at catching their coughs and washing their hands?
  • What if my child isn’t vaccinated yet?
  • Shouldn’t we just continue online for a little while longer?

All of these are valid questions and concerns. Though there is a great deal of anxiety around back to school and COVID-19, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family. Namely, get vaccinated. The CDC recommends that everyone 12 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccination to help protect against COVID-19.

But what about our elementary-aged kiddos? What about our preschoolers? As of now, no COVID vaccines have been approved for this age group, and they’re the ones who need a lot of care, guidance, and gentle reminders to practice hygiene when it’s just a regular old “cold season.”

Schools are working hard to come up with solutions to keep our kids and their employees safe, but this is a new curriculum and we’re not sure what the real test is going to be yet. As parents, friends, employees, and healthcare professionals, we’re in this with you, wondering how this is going to work and how we are supposed to keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy – physically AND mentally.

So here are a few things to remember as we navigate back to school season.

Teachers Are Smart
In creating a plan to reopen schools, California has done its homework. A lot of really intelligent people, many of whom have school-aged children, have come to the table to provide insight and contribute to the plan. The CDC, the California Department of Public Health, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, teachers, child care providers, superintendents, educators, parents, and students weighed in to provide reopening guidance that addresses worries across the spectrum.
Learning Is Important
Thanks to scientific research about COVID-19 and the development of vaccines, infection rates are down. We have learned a lot about testing, treating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the past 18 months, and that knowledge is going to better prepare us as we head back to school or work. We’ve learned that masks and social distancing not only provided protection from COVID-19, but also from other nasty bugs like the flu. We’ve learned that it’s more important to stay home when you’re feeling sick than to force yourself to go in to work. There is no doubt that we’ve got a lot of learning still to do, but we have knowledge, and knowledge gives us at least some power to protect ourselves.
Kids Need To Go To School
Research has shown that the social isolation of quarantine and anxiety of the pandemic has increased depression and anxiety among children around the world, particularly in middle and high schoolers.

For young people, missing significant life events and rites of passage, whether it’s birthday parties or prom, takes a psychological toll,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at bonmente

“For young people, missing significant life events and rites of passage, whether it’s birthday parties or prom, takes a psychological toll,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at bonmente. “Though we won’t entirely realize the mental health effects of COVID-19 for years to come, we know that kids have been having worrisome mood disturbances that come from quarantine-related isolation. They need their friends back.”

And they need their teachers back. If you’ve been a “home educator” for the past 18 months, you have probably (and understandably) let Fortnight, TikTok, or Roblox be a substitute teacher at least a few times. In-person learning is infinitely better for a child’s brain development than the most stimulating TikTok ever created.

COVID-19 is declining. But mental health issues are on the rise.

Even with the Delta variant setback, we have made huge strides in fighting COVID-19. But it’s possible that our next pandemic will be one of mental health proportions. A study at the University of Oxford found that one in three people infected with COVID experienced some type of mental health issue within six months of infection. For those who have been diligently resisting exposure, the isolation, fear, fatigue, stress, and anxiety have also threatened mental wellness.
So, How Do You Feel?

Almost everyone is experiencing a little burnout these days, and back-to-school is just the point on the pencil. The best protection you have against COVID-19 is a vaccination, a mask, and social distancing, but the best protection you have against COVID-19 triggered mental health issues is early intervention.

“The sooner a person gets help for psychiatric symptoms, the sooner they can get better,” said Alicia Bulin, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at bonmente. “The most common mental health complaints – anxiety and depression – can be the most crippling to your day-to-day life, and those are the ones on the rise as a direct result of the pandemic. If you’re not feeling like yourself, there is help.”
To make getting help as easy as possible, bonmente offers access to excellent care that is literally at your fingertips thanks to our innovative telepsychiatry interface. Schedule an appointment with our mental health providers today.



California has officially reopened! Those days we’ve been dreaming of, free breathing the air and carefree contact with friends and family, they’re finally here. We’re back to normal!

But why does it feel so…. weird?

Why does having your whole face exposed feel so awkward? Why does returning to normal have to come with this new sensation of “mask”xiety?

Remember back in the pre-Covid times when the most universally socially awkward thing we shared was what to do with our hands? Well, that’s back, and with it is this new worry: what do we do with our masks?

  • Wear it so people don’t think you’re some kind of selfish jerk?
  • Wear it because your kids haven’t been vaccinated yet and you want to keep them safe?
  • Keep it at the ready as a chin strap or an ear accessory until you read the room?
  • Ditch it and walk full-faced and proud into alllll the stores?

According to the CDC, “Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”

So, we have permission and the blessing of science to enjoy the liberation of vaccination. But we still have a responsibility to follow the rules of local businesses and our workplace. These are tricky and stressful social situations to navigate, and we are very out of practice since we’ve been hanging out at home for over a year.

Awkward Moments Are ‘The New Normal’

One of our staff members shared a story with us about riding an elevator that was so relatable. When the elevator doors opened, she noticed the gentleman riding the elevator had his mask on, which left her scrambling through her bag searching for her mask.

She’s fully vaccinated and following CDC guidelines yet was still in a panic as she tried to find her mask as a courtesy. Where’s the guidebook on re-entry, CDC? Did anyone get a copy of the Post-Pandemic Manners Manual?

Guess what? No manual. We’re all flying blind.

So, let’s find the funny. 

We’re all out of practice with interacting with strangers. Our personal space has grown at least 6 times bigger than it used to be. We’re all relearning how to put makeup on the lower half of our faces, how to manage facial hair that used to be under cover, and how to smile as a gesture. We’re all bumbling through handshake/fist bump blunders.

We are all feeling stressed and awkward with our newly returned freedom to exist in the world. We are all figuring this out, day by day, interaction by interaction. So let’s be patient with one another and find the funny in it.

We made it! This is what we wanted, what we worked for. Let’s get our high fives tuned up and get them out of retirement.


Let’s be kind.

People are going to respond differently to re-opening, and just as we didn’t know their personal situations during the pandemic, we still don’t know them now.

Maybe they have a parent getting chemo and still have to be extra cautious. Maybe they have kids at home who aren’t eligible for vaccination yet. Maybe they can’t get vaccinated because of an allergy or other health problem. Maybe they’re terrified of vaccination and haven’t worked through that.

Some people may not be ready to unmask, for a variety of reasons, and that’s okay. Wearing a mask is absolutely not going to hurt anyone.

So, be kind if your friend wants to wear a mask at group gatherings that are outside. Show compassion if your family members opt out of gatherings and events for a while. A little understanding will go a long way in this awkward recovery.


We’ve all had a tough year, physically and emotionally,” said Jordan Blaine, a psychiatric nurse practitioner with bonmente. “The CDC has given a green light to vaccinated people, but how fast we jump back into society is a personal choice. Do what feels right, safe, and good for you.

Let’s be real. And get help when we need it.

Anxiety and depression have exploded during the pandemic. Even though “getting back to normal” sounds amazing, it may be as psychologically debilitating as Covid-19. If re-entering society has your skin crawling, you could need some extra help from the pros at bonmente

“The past year was full of trauma, uncertainty, and fear,” said Kayleigh Soto, a therapist at bonmente. “We have spent the past year alone or in small groups and now we’re expected to co-exist with others and be excited about it. It’s easy to see how reopening could trigger anxiety, but with the right treatment, you can get to the joy of it.”

There is no right or wrong way to handle re-entry, but it’s essential to go at your own pace and view challenges as opportunities to build resilience. If you need a little help with that, give bonmente a call.


bonmente offers comprehensive treatments and guidance to manage anxiety, depression, and all other mental health issues. Schedule an appointment ​with our mental health providers today.