OnCUE

Author - Sarah Daren

Mental Health Awareness Starts with Teachers

Mental Health

For educators, mental health awareness is essential. Teachers are often the first line of defense for protecting children’s mental health. There’s much that educators can do protect the emotional well-being of young learners. However, the first step is awareness.

Educators who learn to spot the signs that indicate when a student is struggling with their mental well-being can help them to avoid or recover from trouble. Because of the personal relationship that effective educators share with students, teachers are well positioned to help struggling learners.

While experience is a vital tool for navigating any situation, teachers can’t always rely on it when dealing with troubled students. It takes a special frame of mind to work with and manage students who have trouble controlling themselves, focusing or paying attention.

Despite these distracting and disruptive habits, more than likely troubled students still want to succeed. It’s easy to label these kinds of children as attention seekers or slackers, but what they need is patient and persistent guidance.

Furthermore, it’s important not to overwhelm students who are struggling with their emotional well-being. As an example, it may help to assign homework with a two-day lead, rather than asking them to turn in work the next day. Additionally, gamification, a relatively new teaching method, can make learning more fun and less stressful.

Educators must also maintain their own mental health. Self-care is just as important as protecting the mental well-being of brilliant, young minds.

Evidence-based programs can help troubled students grow emotionally and socially. Mental Health America (MHA) — a nonprofit organization dedicated to mental health awareness — recommends resources such as the Pax Good Behavior Game as well as the Positive Action Program and the Raising Healthy Children Program to help students in this regard, especially younger learners. These tools leverage social and emotional learning to promote improved life outcomes.  Research has shown that the programs reduce the likelihood that a student will commit a crime, lessen the chance that they will need public assistance and improves learners’ career outlook.

Finally, teachers must find and highlight the positive characteristics of students. This is especially empowering for learners who are struggling with low self-esteem.

Teachers are also individuals. They have dreams, desires and goals, just like anyone else. Because of this, the teaching role can sometimes make professional educators feel as though they’re leading a double life. It can be confusing and exhausting to maintain and balance these two identities, but while this is challenging, it’s not impossible.

One effective coping mechanism is exercise. It’s a great way to maintain and improve one’s physical and emotional health. For some teachers, it’s one of the few activities that helps them to clear their mind.

Also, busy educators may typically find that they only have time to attend mandatory social events such as birthdays, anniversaries and other important functions. Unfortunately, this habit can lead to stress and burnout.

It’s important that educators socialize, personally and professionally. During socialization, hard-working educators may find an understanding ear that can help them to maintain a healthy balance between their personal and professional lives.

Further Reading:

Mental Health Resources for Students and Educators

Addressing the Escalating Psychiatrist Shortage

 


With a Bachelor’s in Health Science along with an MBA, Sarah Daren has a wealth of knowledge within the health, education, and business sectors. Daren is passionate about inspiring students and teachers alike to find innovative ways to approach learning, particularly younger women who she hopes to help motivate to close the gap in executive positions and STEM industries.