The demands that students face today have a significant impact on their mental health, for better or worse. While challenges, problems, and stressors can provide opportunities for positive mental growth when handled in healthy ways, they can also be devastating to a child’s mental health when they’re not properly addressed.
Students regularly deal with issues like a lack of sleep, relationships with peers, academic demands, trauma at home, illness, personal crises, and more. When the mental health of a student is negatively impacted by life’s stressors, it affects all areas of their functioning and can result in emotional, social, academic, and behavioral issues.
Understanding Mental Health Programs in Schools
Teaching mental health in schools can help shield students from damage that can result from stress. The need for effective mental health education in schools is critical; educators have a vital role in supporting the well-being of students.
Almost 50% of students between the ages of 13 and 18 suffer from a mental disorder at some point. In people ages 10 to 34, suicide is the second-leading cause of death. Promoting programs for mental health education in schools requires collaboration, being proactive, and instilling comprehensive solutions to bring these statistics down.
What Schools Can Do to Address Mental Health
There are five strategies that can be vital for improving mental health in schools:
- Encouraging discussion about mental health
- Training educators
- Integrating mental health into classrooms
- Providing resources and tools for students
- Supporting teachers and their mental health
A school is a place in which all types of learning should be active, and this includes mental health education.
Encouraging Discussion about Mental Health
There is a stigma in too many schools that surrounds mental health. It must be normalized by encouraging students to have open conversations about it. Schools need to increase awareness by promoting productive discussions on mental health in and out of the classroom.
Teachers, administrators, and staff members can be trained to identify and respond to signs of mental distress in students.
When a student is in distress, especially younger ones, they often turn to teachers first for help. Educators can feel ill-prepared to support students, and this can do further harm by exacerbating the student’s distress.
Integrating Mental Health into Classrooms
Incorporating mental health education in schools can be done in ways that are natural and not cumbersome for teachers. For example, younger children can discuss and learn about emotions and how to manage them while older students can discuss the social ramifications of different health issues.
Providing Resources and Tools for Students
The tools and resources should be made available to students and should be normalized in schools. These tools that benefit mental health can and need to become a part of each student’s school day every day.
These can include relaxation exercises, mindfulness techniques, physical activity, opportunities for music, art, and theater, and even quiet spaces in which students can just take a break for a bit.
Supporting Teachers and Their Mental Health
One of the most influential ways students learn is by example, and this includes mental health education in schools. Teachers are stressed on a daily basis and need to have wellness programs available that will support them. When a teacher displays signs of mental distress, it can negatively impact the mental state of students.
How Rachel’s Challenge Addresses Mental Health in Schools
Rachel’s Challenge has a vast array of programs that are designed to help educators perform all five of the above strategies for teaching mental health in schools.
When Rachel’s Challenge comes to a school, conversations that normalize and promote awareness of mental health begin. We provide tools and resources to get everyone involved: students, teachers, administrators, and parents. We help train teachers on the critical role they play in teaching mental health in schools.
By having Rachel’s Challenge present our programs at your school, you begin integrating mental health into classrooms. Students see that it’s a topic that is important enough to warrant a special presentation. As they listen to the stories of Rachel’s Challenge, they begin to feel comfortable and safe.
Cultivating an environment in which students feel comfortable and safe makes them more confident about coming forward and seeking help for their issues. When this positive, inclusive, supportive learning environment is established, teachers are also supported and taken care of within it.
The Benefits of Teaching Mental Health in Schools
When mental health is taught in schools, students are immersed in an environment that is accepting of them and the mental issues they experience. The benefits of teaching mental health in schools are far-reaching.
When they are accepted, nurtured, and taken care of in ways that promote good mental health, students achieve more academically, improve self-awareness and self-confidence, become better leaders, form empathetic connections with others, and build emotional regulation skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
To learn more about Rachel’s Challenge or to book a program at your school, contact us today.