Back-To-School Season Is A Mental Health Crisis For Parents And Children, Healthline Survey Finds

75% of American parents would love to send their kids back to school, but only 10% feel comfortable doing so

SAN FRANCISCO – August 25, 2020 – American parents of school-age children face a difficult autumn, according to the results of a survey released today by, the flagship digital health information site of Healthline Media. The survey looked at how parents will cope with at-home learning, work and the cost of additional childcare if their child’s school isn’t reopening — and the stress of potential health risks if it does.

“American parents of school-age children are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Dr. Elaine Hanh Le, Chief Medical Officer of Healthline Media. “If their kids can’t go back to school, many parents will be unable to work or afford childcare. If parents can do either, they may be risking their health, the health of family members, or the health of their larger community.”

In response to the pandemic, Healthline has published a COVID-19 resource hub with more than 500 evidence-based and medically approved articles addressing myriad aspects of the COVID-19 crisis.

For many parents, back to school feels like a lose-lose

As the new school year kicks into full swing, millions of parents around the country are continuing to facilitate their children’s remote learning from home. Well over half of American parents (60%) say this adds significant stress to their day. 

It’s also hard on kids. Parents report that school closures have resulted in their kids:

  • having more screen time (36%)

  • feeling more socially isolated (31%)

  • seeming down (25%) or depressed (19%)

  • eating more junk food (24%)

  • acting argumentative (17%) or angry (14%)

Fully three-quarters (75%) of American parents feel that returning to school in-person would be better for their child’s mental health.

But many feel it’s simply too soon. Only 10% of American parents definitely feel comfortable sending their kids back to school, and 41% say the government’s move to open schools in the fall is causing them stress.

School closures will disproportionately affect low earners

About half of American parents (49%) still aren’t sure if they will send their kids back to school this fall—if it’s even an option—and nearly a quarter (23%) don’t plan to send their child back to school in the foreseeable future.

This includes 28% of the parents most impacted by the pandemic and school closures: those who make less than $50,000 a year.

  • 48% of these parents say they won’t have childcare for their children if in-classroom learning doesn’t resume

  • 61% will stay home to take care of their kids

  • 39% will be unable to return to work

About a quarter of parents in other income brackets will also be unable to return to work if schools remain closed.

Childcare will be a financial burden to many

Taken as a whole, more than half (54%) of American parents say childcare will be a financial burden if schools don’t reopen, and 35% won’t have childcare at all.

More than 1 in 5 parents (21%) will leave their children at home while they work. Their top five greatest concerns about leaving their kids unsupervised are that they will:

  • fall behind academically (39%)

  • be socially isolated (39%)

  • eat too much junk food (35%)

  • not get enough exercise (32%)

  • be depressed (28%) or scared (27%)

“We’re asking a lot of kids and parents in this moment, and the ramifications may be far-reaching,” added Dr. Le. “That’s why Healthline is committed to providing Americans with as much timely, helpful and trusted information as possible.”


The survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults was conducted online by Propeller Insights on behalf of Healthline from June 16-19, 2020. Survey responses were nationally representative of the U.S. population for age, gender, region, and ethnicity.

About Healthline Media
San Francisco-based Healthline Media’s mission is to empower people to be their strongest and healthiest selves by being a trusted ally in their pursuit of health and well-being. The company’s properties include, and Healthline Media’s sites provide evidence-based articles with the highest standards of medical integrity that support the modern health consumer with a whole-person approach to health and wellness. Healthline Media is the top ranked health publisher and number 39 on Comscore’s Top 100 Property rankings through January 2020. Across all of its properties, Healthline Media publishes articles authored by more than 120 writers and reviewed by more than 100 doctors, clinicians, dietitians, and other experts. The company’s repository contains more than 70,000 articles, each updated with current protocol. More than 250 million people worldwide and 87 million people in the U.S. visit Healthline’s sites each month, according to data from Google Analytics and Comscore, respectively. Healthline Media is owned by Red Ventures.

About Healthline Media

As the #1 health media property in the US, Healthline Media reaches more than 94MM unique visitors each month (Comscore, August 2021). We provide credible health information with a compassionate approach.