Farmingville, NY - The COVID-19 Pandemic poses new challenges to all students as they return to school this fall. With the many new plans in place, fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and lead to strong emotion. Youth are often unable to identify and express their feelings and the change is seen in their behavior.The Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau’s Sanctuary Program offers professional counseling, crisis intervention, case management, information and referrals to youth 12-24 years of age who may be having difficulty with stress management, relationships with friends or family, school avoidance and more. Support services are also available to at risk, runaway and homeless youth. Currently, services are being offered through video communications via Zoom or telehealth.Some steps parents and guardians can take in talking to their children about going back to school are:● Talk to your child/teen about COVID-19. Ask what they know as a starting discussion point.● Validate your child’s feelings. These can be scary times for everyone.● Limit exposure to news and social media.● Talk to a friend or a loved one.● Maintain a feelings journal.● Set healthy habits; good sleep schedule, regular exercise and nutrition.● Avoid too much caffeine.● Be patient toward others. Although we are all experiencing the pandemic, each person’s situation is different.The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. It may also relate to how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices during an emergency.Virtual groups to help students and parents are being planned to further support families as they acclimate to the uncertainty that lies ahead. Please refer to brookhavenny.gov for upcoming information or visit the Town of Brookhaven Youth Bureau’s Facebook page.If you or someone you know is interested in receiving counseling through the Brookhaven Youth Bureau, please call 631-451-8011.