Mental Health in Schools – The Challenges Faced and Strategies to Tackle Them
With children spending much of their time in school, there’s a greater role and responsibility that rest on educators to look out for students’ mental health and welfare. Today, mental health in schools matters more than ever, and principals and teachers should be at the forefront to address this issue.
Mental Health Issues in Schools
A large number of students are affected mentally either due to some mental health disorder or due to bad experiences in the past. All of these can impair the children, their behavior and conduct at school, home, or any other social places.
These mental health issues include anxiety disorder, depression, behavioral and conduct disorders, hyperkinetic disorder, dyslexia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and specific developmental disorders of scholastic skills.
Symptoms to Look Out for in Students with Mental Health Issues
- They get easily distracted in class.
- They miss the important things being taught.
- They struggle to read or spell words. They also have a hard time learning arithmetic skills.
- They often seem to be down, unhappy, and socially isolated.
- They would suddenly become angry or violent.
- They don’t show interest in classroom activities.
- They talk about being depressed and having thoughts of suicide.
The Impact of Mental Health in School Settings
The school should lay the foundation for developing a healthy mental state for students. The success rate of any school largely depends on student performance. With the prevailing mental health problems among students, a school is more likely to deteriorate in its quality, progress and success if no preventive measures are taken or no strategies are planned to intervene with these issues.
A child with mental health issues often becomes a target of bullying by other students. He/she is mocked at and becomes isolated. Failing to understand the mental health issues and behavioral disorders of such students, some teachers may punish, condemn or suspend them.
This further increases the child’s stress level, drags him towards depression and may push him towards suicidal attempts, thus affecting not only the growth and success of the child, but also other students and the school as a whole.
Measures a School Can Take to Address Mental Health Issues
Mental health disorders must not be ignored by teachers and parents, and preventive measures should be taken at a very early stage.
- Awareness of mental health problems and advanced training of teachers must be conducted at the school level.
- Since the exact causes of such problems are unknown, the school must collaborate with doctors, school psychologists, and social workers to find out the stress factors in a school setting.
- Principals and teachers should have a plan or program to promote mental health for the entire school.
- More staff should be appointed to address the needs of students with mental health problems.
Mental health disorders are sensitive issues which need to be dealt with very tactfully. Preventive programs should be implemented in schools, and bringing positive changes in the school environment should be the ultimate goal. To know more about mental health in school settings, read our blog about trauma-informed schools and mindfulness in schools.