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What can teachers do to support their student’s mental health?



With the recently sprouted pandemic, adjustments have caused a dramatic decline in everyone’s mental health. Having to change to online schooling and socializing being limited, students who are at their most important periods of their life, are put in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar state of worry. Some student’s mental health may still be affected and we teachers need to be supporters, providers and listeners to problems that put their mental health at risk.

 

The first and most crucial step is to get the message across that ‘not being okay is okay’. Some students may struggle to talk about their problems as they feel embarrassed. Letting them know that we are all supposed to show our emotions will help encourage them to talk about them more.

 

Your school should also offer support through something like a mental well-being team, where members of staff are always happy to leave their door open to talk with students. As well as face to face interactions, there can be a box where students can write their problems on a piece of paper. Consequently, this tackles the dilemma of students struggling to speak on their emotions when in front of a teacher. Teachers can then take time to read through these, taking time to consider how to tackle the student’s worries best.

 

Exercise is not only good for your body; it can be great for the mind as well. It improves mental health by enhancing self-esteem and cognitive function. Even with a short aerobic exercise such as jogging or swimming, it is proven that they can reduce anxiety and depression, which are the over-riding factors of poor mental health. These alterations in mood are proposed to be developed by an increase in blood circulation to the brain. Exercise can be promoted easily in places of education. If there isn’t already after school clubs for sports, start a few. This allows students to not only get their regular exercise, but also be included in social activities, in which they might have been lacking. Ensuring all student’s participate in P.E lessons is down to us, as teachers.

 

Another extra-curricular activity club that can be open to students is some sort of arts. Participating in arts can enable the students to deal with a wide range of mental health issues and psychological distress. Overall, it promotes mental health through the ability to be creative. Some may struggle to express themselves with words, so poems, paintings or drawings may help them to express themselves without the use of speaking.

 

So, how can we spot poor mental health in a student?

Some early signs of poor mental health include poor concentration, being more easily distracted than usual, fatigue, aggressive outbursts and a sudden decline in grades and quality of work. The ability of being able to spot these signs before it’s too late is crucial. After noticing these, we should speak to them and offer our support.

Students need their teachers at the end of the day, and not being there for them has an extreme effect. For example, if student’s problems involve family and they aren’t able to turn to them for advice and guidance, they rely on other sources of authority, their teachers. Therefore, the key step is to let them know they can turn to you for advice.