Today, people are busy with work, family, school, hobbies, and other activities. In our daily lives, it may appear that there is little time for our mental health and wellbeing unless we make it a priority. Furthermore, a clear stigma pervades schools and workplaces, making administration unwilling or unable to offer adequate solutions or positive change.
Environments, particularly schools and workplaces, should implement strategies for supporting student and employee wellbeing consistently and effectively.
Mental health awareness should begin in schools
The purpose of schools is to foster social and academic growth. Students who are able to develop a growth mindset – ready to embrace the classes they are in, believe in their own abilities, and maximise their own learning – benefit the most from school environments. An individual who possesses this mindset can practice self-care and self-love. In order to improve oneself, one must first learn to accept themselves and take care of themselves. By doing so, they can learn new concepts, think critically, and grow alongside their peers in the classroom setting.
Thus, schools should prioritize the wellbeing of their students and offer every student the opportunity to “focus on the good”. The result will be a school with more productive and prepared students.
We have provided five ideas for schools to provide solutions to support their students’ mental health, and while these solutions require administrative approval, the student voice is a powerful tool for bringing about these changes.
Establish regular check-in times and a safe space in class
A glimpse into how students are doing will allow teachers to develop a deeper connection with them as well as a more holistic understanding of their behaviours and participation attempts.
Checking in as a class can also make students feel less alone. Students may feel relieved and seek help if they realise their classmates are not all as “perfect” and “great” as they appear.
Check-ins, in general, promote a healthier classroom environment in which teachers are more aware of their students’ situations and students can break down the stigma associated with feeling “not okay” at times.
Provide basic mental health training to all teachers
Teachers may come across students who show signs of mental illness or who simply need extra support if they create safe spaces for students to check in. Teachers who receive basic mental health training will be able to act appropriately and connect their students to resources and help well before their mental health deteriorates.
Observant teachers who know how to spot warning signs may be able to notice changes in their students’ behavior. Having been trained, they will be able to deal with a student’s check-in and refer them to professional resources if and when needed.
Provide basic mental health training to all students
Training students to support their friends’ or peers’ mental health is crucial, much like training teachers. Students are often the first responders in situations like this. Teachers and students are not clinicians. They are not being trained to treat anyone. Instead, they are referred to professionals, people, or centers based on the signs they observe.
By having a peer-to-peer mental health care network, students will be able to avoid falling through the cracks when it comes to mental health care.
Provide a wellness center on campus, designed by students and easily accessible to all students.
It is equally important to create a physical space on campus for student wellness, just as it is to create spaces in the classroom for wellness check-ins. Students can enjoy this campus wellness center for a variety of activities, such as talking with a peer, connecting with a professional, learning about self-care, drinking tea, coloring, resting, or meditating.
The center should be designed by students at the school, so it is in a location where students will actually use it and so its services are relevant to everyone. The administration should implement a policy stating that students may visit the wellness center during class if they need to.
Organize regular open events for parents to learn more about student mental health and how to support them.
It is important for students and parents to bridge the generation gap in order to foster a cooperative relationship. Since schools do not have as much influence over what happens at home, providing parents with resources to develop their understanding of how to support youth mental health will facilitate a smooth transition between school and home life.
Many parents are deeply concerned about their children’s mental health, but they are not sure of the resources to turn to. Schools can provide parents and households with information about mental health support, including where to seek more professional assistance if and when needed.
The following are five ways schools can better support students’ well-being. Some schools are already implementing solutions similar to these, but there is always room for improvement regarding more effective support systems for students everywhere.