Students are living in an increasingly complex, fast-paced, and digital world. They're being expected to do more in less time while being bombarded with new technology and expectations.
Teachers have a critical role to play in helping students cope with these changes, thrive in this new environment, and effectively manage their mental health. Here are seven ways how teachers can help students fight mental health problems:
Talk to the student
Don't wait for the student to ask you for help. If you see signs of depression in your student, speak up! You may be able to use this opportunity to get them talking about what's going on with them. You might even be able to help them find a way through their feelings.
Listen to students
Teachers need to listen carefully when a student tells them about their mental health issues. A good way to listen is by asking open-ended questions, such as, "How does this make you feel?" or "What is your reaction when you think about this?" After listening, teachers need to show empathy and demonstrate that they care about their student's well-being by being supportive and helpful.
Discuss mental health-related topics
It's important for teachers to discuss mental health-related topics with their students so the latter can learn more about the topic and what resources are available in their community if they need help. Teachers should also make it clear that talking openly about these issues is not stigmatizing, but rather a way of helping others who might be struggling with similar issues themselves.
Get more educated on mental health
Teachers should take the time to educate themselves on the different types of disorders that exist in society today so that they can better identify those students who may have a problem with depression or anxiety and provide them with the necessary assistance needed to deal with it properly and successfully.
Consult therapists and psychologists
Teachers can help students fight mental health problems by helping them seek professional help. Teachers should encourage students to consult their parents, guardians, or other adults about their concerns. If the student is particularly worried about disclosing the issue to people, the teacher can make an appointment for them with a therapist -- or encourage parents to take the student to a professional. The teacher should also keep a list of local resources that can be utilized by students in need of support or assistance.
Look out for warning signs
Warning signs can include emotional outbursts, excessive sleepiness, changes in eating habits, sudden mood swings, and decreased concentration levels. If you notice any of these signs in your student's behavior, take it seriously and contact their family immediately to schedule a meeting with them and the school counselor. It is important that the student's parents are aware of the situation since they may be able to provide some insight into what may be troubling their child.
Encourage social interactions
Socializing with other people is an important part of taking care of our mental health issues. It allows us to be around positive people who can offer support when we need it most. So, teachers can encourage students to partake in social activities like sports and drama. It is good for their mental health, as well as personal development.
Teachers are in the best position to identify and help students who may be struggling with mental illness. Often teachers are the go-to person for many students even if they are not the first benchers or ranks among the top five in a class. The naughty ones in class are remembered by teachers the most. Teachers understand students in the best possible way and talk therapy really helps in understanding the underlying causes of mental problems in a child. Students can also benefit with increased awareness about mental health both within their classroom and out in the community. The bottom line here is that we must work together to bring more attention to mental health. Then, perhaps, we can reduce the stigma around it and help those who need it most. Certified counseling experts are always there to help- just reach out without feeling shy.