Research has shown that the value of teaching school mental health is paramount to reducing violence, limiting risk factors for dangerous behavior, and fostering an overall healthy and safe learning environment. Schools are natural settings in which mental health can be nurtured, protected, and strengthened.
While mental wellness goes hand in hand with student achievement, the benefits of teaching mental health in schools are far-reaching and extend beyond the school walls.
It is estimated that up to one out of every six students ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder of some type each year. Teaching mental health tools in schools will help combat what the US Surgeon General calls a “mental health crisis” among youth.
Mental Health Education in Schools
Balancing school work, social lives, extracurricular obligations, and other pressures can quickly take a toll on the mental health of students. In fact, it is estimated that almost 32% of adolescents and teenagers may have an anxiety disorder.
When mental health is left unaddressed and unchecked, a student can easily fall victim to a fear of failure, lack of confidence, social anxiety, and other challenges to their mental well-being. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, among people between the ages of 10 and 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death.
Mental health education in schools is key to addressing these alarming trends.
What Are the Benefits of Teaching Mental Health in Schools?
In order to get students who are struggling the help they need, it’s important to address mental health in schools as children spend much of their time there. Here are some of the benefits of addressing mental health in schools.
Reducing the Stigma
Conversations around mental health are becoming more common, but the stigma surrounding it is still present. When people don’t talk about their struggles, feelings of shame can arise.
Identifying Potential Issues Early
Naturally, when more people are knowledgeable about good mental health and are familiar with the symptoms of mental health disorders, potential problems can be identified and properly treated early on.
It’s well-documented that early intervention and proper treatment can make a significant impact on the outcome of a person’s life. When students are taught about mental health, they’ll be able to spot issues not just with their peers, but also with themselves.
Teaching mental health in schools can also:
- Promote self-care and physical well-being
- Encourage students to talk about their feelings
- Build self-esteem and self-confidence
- Foster a school culture of empathy and acceptance
- Reduce bullying and school violence
There is a critical need for school-based mental health programs. By meeting this need, proper mental health treatment will become more accessible, reducing the risks of emotional, social, and behavioral disorders.
What Can Schools Do to Integrate Mental Health?
The foundation of change lies in schools helping students achieve positivity by promoting safety, inclusion, and support.
Creating open environments in which talking about mental health is common will help decrease the stigma and shame associated with related topics. It will also prompt healthy, thoughtful conversations about students’ concerns and challenges.
In addition, schools can:
- Have a referral system in place for students who need help and are struggling
- Incorporate deep breathing exercises and other self-care practices throughout the day
- Develop programs to promote healthy coping skills
- Develop early intervention services
- Provide family and student resources and supports
- Make services and treatment programs accessible
- Organize skill groups to help students deal with anxiety, grief, anger, and other emotions
An abundance of open conversations, ample referral resources, and early identification can all reflect an educational environment that values its students. When students feel and believe that they are valued, every benefit of mental health awareness becomes even more advantageous.
Working with Rachel’s Challenge
Rachel’s Challenge is an evidence-based series of programs and presentations that has life-changing impacts on educators, students, and parents.
With assemblies, resources, digital videos, and live presentations, these programs have touched more than 30 million lives, thwarted at least eight school shootings, and prevented hundreds of suicides.
Rachel’s Challenge promotes mental health education in schools and provides guidance that encourages discussion, instills knowledge, and promotes empathy, support, and acceptance.
To schedule a Rachel’s Challenge presentation or program for your school, book an event with the Rachel’s Challenge team today. You can also make a donation to our cause.