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Child burnout: A growing concern for parents and schools

The role of schools in addressing child burnout

More than two-thirds of parents (70%) believe that their child is experiencing more burnout than they are.

A new survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children found that 66% of parents said that their child comes home with a “low mental battery” after school and half of them noticed some sort of signs of stress and burnout in their child.

The top signs that were recognized were changes in sleep patterns (44%), changes in appetite (37%), physical complaints such as headaches or stomach aches (35%), decreased interest in activities they once enjoyed (34%), and avoidance of social interactions or activities (33%).

Many parents feel that schools should play a role in supporting their child’s ability to cope with stress and burnout, with 81% of parents wishing schools offered more easily accessible mental health services.

Schools are struggling with a significant challenge: a lack of adequate staff to support the increasing mental health needs of students. Shockingly, only 14% of schools meet the American School Counselor Association’s recommended ratio of one school counselor to 250 students.

The survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Presence, a leading provider of remote evaluations and teletherapy, found that parents are actively looking for solutions, but not all parents know how to provide the tools their child may need.

Seven in 10 wish there was a handbook on how to talk to their child about mental health.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends a ratio of one school psychologist per 500 students to provide comprehensive psychological services, but the current national ratio is estimated to be 1:1127, according to the NASP’s analysis.

“Students spend a significant part of their lives in school – it’s the best environment to identify stress, burnout or behavioral challenges and address them immediately,” said Stephanie Taylor Ed.S, NCSP, and vice president of clinical innovation and outreach at Presence. “However the staff shortages are significant, so it’s important for schools to explore innovative and effective solutions that improve access to mental health professionals for children in need.”

The survey results show that parents are open to using technology or teletherapy if it means their kids can get access to the help they need. Six in 10 parents have sought the help of teletherapy or online therapy services.

Additionally, nearly half of the parents would consider support groups and peer counseling programs (49%), mindfulness or meditation practices (41%), and therapy and counseling (39%).

When it comes to discussing feelings and emotions, the survey found that nearly one-third of children communicate their feelings and emotions to their parents or guardians only once a week or less, with some waiting up to two to three weeks.

The main three feelings that parents admit their child struggles with are stress (39%), anger (30%), and depression (29%).

Parents would also appreciate a hand from schools as 83% think it’s important for schools to offer mental health counseling to students, according to the survey.

“By reaching out to schools and learning about the mental health services offered, parents can take the first step in helping their children,” Taylor said. “Yes, schools are struggling to provide the degree of mental health services they would like to provide, but many parents may be surprised and relieved by what school can offer.”


  • Change in sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual – 44%
  • Change in appetite, such as eating more or less than usual – 37%
  • Physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches – 35%
  • Decrease in interest in activities that they once enjoyed – 34%
  • Avoidance of social interactions or activities – 33%


  • Screen time and social media use – 28%
  • Changes or transitions, such as a move or a new school – 26%
  • Social pressure and peer relationships- 26%
  • Anxiety and worry about the future – 24%
  • Bullying or harassment – 22%
  • Lack of sleep or irregular sleep patterns – 22%
  • Financial stress or instability – 21%
  • Health concerns or chronic illness – 20%
  • Family issues – 18%


  • Support groups or peer counseling programs – 49%
  • Exercise or physical activity – 47%
  • Mindfulness or meditation practices – 41%
  • Therapy or counseling – 39%
  • Personalized learning coach – 38%
  • Art or music therapy – 33%
  • Pet therapy or animal-assisted interventions – 30%

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children was commissioned by Presence between March 9 and March 13, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

Download this infographic for more key research insights on student mental wellbeing, and what schools can do to help.

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