With mental health awareness becoming an ever-pressing issue in our day-to-day lives, it seems fitting that each year we dedicate specific time to addressing the subject. An issue that extends past one day or awareness week, we discuss what you can do as a teacher to help both colleagues and students alike to raise awareness and help to improve well-being within schools.
Ask The Questions
The stigma around mental health is slowly diminishing, however people are often still too afraid to ask. Get to the root of wellbeing issues in a school by asking the questions, whether that be through online surveys or 1:1 sessions with individuals. Resist the urge to simply ask how you can ‘fix’ the issue and focus on guiding conversations and ask instead how you can improve circumstances or make things better.
This can help pinpoint specific issues and often enables you to resolve them more efficiently than dancing around the subject. From this, you can take the time to talk and utilise school therapists to help get the best out of staff and pupils. For the majority, mental health problems are treatable should they be detected early, so take a time out and make this a priority.
Make it normal to talk
Its often difficult for children to express exactly how they are feeling, so make it easier by naming emotions and feelings in a way that children will identify with. Enabling the development of emotional intelligence will ensure that issues can be raised clearly. Try doing this through photo cards or a range of interactive activities to cement the process. Invite children to talk about how they’re feeling by asking questions such as “you look upset today, how can I help?”.
The organised chaos of a typical school day makes it hard to find the time to assign additional time to speaking to a student or colleague who seems particularly disheartened or low, however this is perhaps a more pressing issue than that never ending pile of marking sat on your desk. Taking the time can really make a huge difference to someone’s day or even week, so this mental health day make it more normal to talk.
The journey of learning emotional intelligence isn’t an easy one, but a key element is to develop specific strategies to regulate and control these emotions. This world mental health day, devote a few hours to talk and develop awareness into what your students are feeling and why they feel it. From this, you can assist in establishing a set of exercises that they can do to suppress this, whether that be star jumps or colouring.
“When adults support and encourage young children as they take risks, face obstacles, and grow from failure, young people learn how to bounce back from life’s ups and downs.”
Make yourself approachable
When it comes to discussing personal mental health, making yourself approachable is pivotal in being able to help someone. Take part in a mental health first aid course and educate yourself around managing each situation, or simply make it known that you are there for students and colleagues should they need you. Encourage activities that allow students to get to know each other and you and make an effort to find out and show interest in what students get up to when they’re not at school. Everyone’s favourite topic is themselves so start the day with an open dialogue to ignite a positive feeling from the outset.
Make Use of Online Resources
As a crucial issue making significant headway in becoming an integral part in the school curriculum, there are some great online resources available that you can integrate into your lessons. Of course, teaching resource site Twinkl features a plethora of free to download activities, from positive affirmations to mindfulness and breathing exercises. Additionally, charities such as Young Minds understand the juggling act that teachers re having to go through on a daily basis and are fighting for all young people to get the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what.
If you’re looking for a new challenge or change of scenery, Initial Education would love to hear from you so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via email or call us on 01452 740001.