Mental health is a primary determinant in every student’s academic performance and identifying mental health problems in children is therefore a key factor in education for any teaching staff member.
Different types of mental health issues can afflict anyone at any time.
The set up of a mental health awareness day or mental health awareness week is useful to open up a discussion about the condition. It can also support the people who are living with the problem or support them to seek help.
This article provides five reliable tips for teachers to promote mental health in schools during the current Covid-19 pandemic where many families were impacted by additional stress and isolation.
Mental health is already a social problem; however, its effects have skyrocketed due to the pandemic outbreak.
Current vital statistics about Mental Health in Schools show Crisis
Schools must prioritize the mental health of young people.
Suicide is the number one killer among young people. Therefore, schools must promote mental health. Current statistics show that:
- 75% of young people develop mental illnesses right before they become 18 years old.
- 50% of problems related to adult mental health begin before they turn 15 years old.
- 10% of young people in school have a diagnosable mental illness. Thus, out of every 30 students in a class, there shall be three people with poor mental health.
- 75% of all young people who are mentally disturbed do not undergo medical treatment.
- 51% of all young people are too embarrassed to disclose that they have a mental illness.
These numbers clearly confirm that young people must get protection from afflictions like mental illness.
With the current coronavirus outbreak adding additional threats to students’ mental health, it must be protected to prevent snowballing into a more severe consequence.
Predominant issues currently plaguing Young People
Several factors adversely affect the mental health of young people. They are:
Social media anxiety:
Although previously non-existent, this social anxiety wave was triggered by social media platforms being used for cyberbullying. Young people are some of the worst-hit victims of social media cyberbullying. They are often easy targets of cyberbullies, internet shaming, frauds, scams, and so on. Falling victim to any one of these vices can negatively affect their mental health. With the current pandemic, more young people are dependent on these platforms to maintain their communication with friends and family. Sometimes this can be counterproductive if they fall victim to any of the common online habits. Governments are trying to establish legislation to prevent this as you can read here.
Young students are also prone to have exam pressure. This pressure, if not adequately treated, can lead to a mental health problem. Young people in school are stressed out with the workload and the expectation. They are also under pressure to become successful. Many think that if they perform poorly at school, they will never have a great future and they may also be pushed by their parents to not fail. Read more about how to overcome study problems here.
Social media peer pressure influence:
With the evolution of social media platforms, the websites are getting popular by the day. With the opportunity it gives to people to post their edited and optimized pictures, Instagram makes people feel inadequate about themselves. Young people are prone to compare themselves to their peers. If not monitored, this could lead to a severe self-esteem problem and eventually affect the student’s mental health.
Young LGBTQ students:
Students who are members of the LGBTQ usually find it challenging to let other people, especially if their family and friends are judgmental about different types of sexual relationships. This could cause the person to become introverted, isolate themselves from others, become lonely, and worry a lot to remain true to who they are.
Societal pressure on young people:
In addition to exam pressure and other forms of stress, young people have responsibilities and expectations that worry them and make them get anxious. For example, many young people take up a specific role and miss out on their childhood. This can easily lead to mental illness problems.
How Teachers can promote Mental Health in Schools
It is the responsibility of teachers and school managers to improve mental health in schools, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here are some tips
Teachers need to make out time to maintain student’s mental health
There is currently more focus on physical health, remote learning, and stopping the disease from spreading. We tend to focus on following safe practices like social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, etc. However, it is equally important for teachers to make time to maintain their students’ mental health. Teachers help students take part in activities that keep them mentally balanced such as reading and exercising, meditation, or journaling.
Students should be taught self-compassion
At this period of the pandemic, there is no better time to promote being kind to each other more than now. Teachers need to teach a compassionate culture in the minds of their students. Students should be taught about self-compassion, the mindset of growth, and benevolent gestures both in real life and on the internet.
Set an achievable target for students
Teachers should make their students aware of the pandemic. Therefore, things are more challenging than usual. Things are presently different, and this is normal. Students should be given realistic targets and not pressured to accomplish unrealistic objectives. When they set small, realistic goals for their students, the students can achieve these targets and gain confidence. Or if they are unable to reach the targets, their attempt at trying will make them feel encouraged.
Sustain channels of communication among their students
Some students are naturally shy and introverted; these sorts of students should be counseled and encouraged to speak up. Whatever their problems are, it may have been exacerbated with the pandemic. Therefore, teachers should convince their students to come forward with any issues they might be dealing with for proper counseling. It could be personal, family or environmental problems.
Educate the students on how to stay safe online
Teachers have the responsibility to educate their students on how to stay safe online. Students should know how to avoid the risks that come with the internet. Furthermore, they should know the necessary steps to take after fallen victim to criminals/bullies on the internet. They should be exposed to practical parental control tools to minimize dangerous exposure on the internet. Read more about current digital literacy curricula and resources here to offer e-safety support.
Mental Health plays a Big Role for Learning
The current pandemic has brought a new level of anarchy that has forced us to live our lives in ways that we are previously not used to.
This uproar has led to so many changes that can affect our mental health. Unfortunately, our students are not spared from these dangers to mental health. If unattended, it could become harmful; therefore, the following five essential tips will help teachers promote good mental health during the pandemic.
In this COVID-19 pandemic situation, teachers are also facing many issues and may suffer as well. If you are a teacher and worried about the changes within your workplace, the wellness culture in your organization or you want more advice on how to best support others through this time, then reach out and speak to one of Qredible’s employment experts.
Ali Panchoo – Digital Marketing Executive and content writer at Qredible.co.uk. Thorough understanding of social media, digital marketing and customer engagement with a proven ability to increase brand awareness, conceptualise and orchestrate marketing campaigns that effectively reinforce and build brand images.