Learn why teaching mental health in schools is crucial. Discover the benefits, statistics, and ways to improve students’ well-being.
by Andrea Smith | Andrea Smith is a mother of two living in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She is an avid blogger on her site The Write Gurl, and finds joy in knitting and drinking wine. Follow Andrea on Twitter @JeopardyQueen.
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We seem busier than ever with work, family, and hobbies. But there’s trouble in school because there’s no room for a wellness check. Then there’s a stigma when a child does show signs of needing help. Without positive change in providing mental health lessons within schools, there is a real risk of causing more harm than good.
In this post, I’m going to talk about the crucial reasons why mental health should be taught in schools.
Statistics of Student Mental Health
Studies show that the youth are sad and hopeless. We need to connect with them and improve their mental health. Schools can help in this area. The trends show a strong indication that in 2021, 4 in 10 students felt hopeless. In the same year, 1 in 10 attempted suicide.
The children most affected by these feelings were LBGTQIA+, females, and racial and ethnic groups, with Black students having the most suicide attempts. On top of these facts, studies have also shown that one in six students, aged 6 to 17, were vulnerable to mental health challenges because they have to balance school, work, social life, and extracurricular activities.
The Benefits of Teaching Mental Health in Schools
Having an open dialogue with children about the wellness and benefits of maintaining a positive mindset aids in removing the stigma that comes with mental health checks. The more emotional awareness a child is taught to have, the likelier they are to tend to their mental health more frequently.
Early intervention and treatment produces positive change in children. Here’s how:
- They can help themselves or their friends.
- It encourages self- care and self-confidence
- Cultivate empathy and acceptance.
Social Emotional Learning Programs don’t have to interupt the regular schedule. They can be blended with the curriculum. Then educators can monitor signs of trauma and behavior changes.
Teachers who notice a student is struggling can have their back. They can refer them to mental health services. If they’re already in a fragile state, Project Aware is ready with an early intervention or treatment.
Why Is it Important?
Think of the factors that aggravate dangerous behavior. Students need a safe learning environment. Schools are the ideal space to nurture mental health.
It matters because this dread can filter into other parts of their life. It starts with poor mental health and then low school performance and grades. They are at risk for drug use, harmful sexual behavior, and accidental pregnancy.
Bullying is a major issue in which a child feels anxious. Schools should enforce anti-bullying procedures. Bystander intervention creates positive outcomes and students plus staff can prevent harm.
When they have these emotional disorders they drop out. Anxious students can’t pay attention. They’re preoccupied and can’t complete assignments.
How To Improve Mental Health in Schools
What about school culture?
To facilitate this issue, schools make kids feel valued. This means regular checks on their well-being.
Physical education teachers guide kids to a healthy future. Also hiring mental health personnel such as nurses, social workers, counselors, and psychologists. They are trained in helping students with mental health challenges.
Don’t forget the staff needs support. When they’re happy they have the energy to assist students. This means having manageable workloads and a reasonable staff-to-student ratio.
Including wellness in their professional development training,
There are high-risk situations for students who need immediate attention. There are children that must be a priority-troubled home settings, disabled or ACE ( Adverse Childhood Experiences).
Mental Health Concerns From COVID-19
Depression has been an immediate concern in adolescents. There is hope to boost their mental wellness. These days they’re falling apart. They’ll get better with physical activity.
Physical activity makes their pain lower. Also, they need a decent night’s sleep. Observe their sleep schedule.
Watch their eating habits. Understand that poor nutrition affects their mood. Nourish them with a good balance of fruit, protein, and vegetables.
Children who feel safe are calm. This leads to fostering a sense of community. Then they have social interactions. When they have social activities with their peers and the support of their families; it improves their mental health.
When their confidence is low their self-esteem drops.
In an attempt to relieve the darkness, continue to praise them.
Schools have limited capabilities. Community providers need to build partnerships. Staff aren’t confident they can provide treatments to all students. These funds are budgets for specific sources and the stream runs dry.
Some need them to pay their mental health providers. Or to help students with disabilities or who are homeless.
In conclusion, teaching mental health in schools is crucial for the well-being and success of students. By addressing mental health challenges early on, we can create a safe and supportive learning environment that promotes positive change. Through increased awareness, social-emotional learning programs, and access to mental health services, we can empower students to take care of their own well-being and support their peers. By investing in the mental health of our students, we are investing in their future success and overall happiness. Together, we can create a school culture that values and prioritizes mental health, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for all.