Mental awareness matters to all teachers. You are in constant contact with your students. Understanding that the mental health of every child in your class impacts their ability to learn and achieve academic success will allow you to come up with the right approach and teaching strategy. If you want to help your students improve, here are a few things you’ll want to know about mental awareness and the kids.
See the Signs
Know and recognize the signs that your students might be suffering from mental problems. Reach out to them. If some of your former students aren’t turning in their homework like they used to, or no longer try hard on their essays, or if they aren’t as engaged in the classes anymore, find out why. If they suffer from mental illness, then reaching out to them might be just what they need to ask for professional help. With medication and therapy, your students can get better.
Understand the Effect
Fourteen is the average age when early signs of mental illnesses start. But many individuals fail to seek out help until they are adults. That’s not a surprise. In a report prepared by UNICEF, Japanese kids ranked second on the list with the worst mental well-being among 38 well-developed and emerging countries. Instances of bullying as well as difficult family relationships contribute to the lack of psychological well-being. But many international schools in Japan are trying to change that by providing education that not only takes into account the academic development of the kids but also their social and emotional growth. By understanding how mental health affects your students, you can take steps to help the kids in your class.
Talk to the kids. Ask them how they’re doing. Are they having a hard time coping up with the assignments? Is the pace of the schoolwork? Or is something else bothering them? Ask after their family, too. That shows them that you care about them. By doing so, you establish a relationship of trust. By letting the kids know that they can talk to you whenever they need to, you open up the communication channels. They might not take you up on your offer now. But if their mental problems continue, they’ll remember your offer and they’ll ask for help. That’s the reaction you want.
Talk to the Parents
If the kids require professional assistance, then you’ll need to let the parents know. Make sure they don’t blame their children. Provide them with as much information as necessary to assist them in finding the help that their kids need. Also, stay in touch with the parents, so if there are any incidents at school that involve their kids, you can let them know right away. Their involvement and cooperation are crucial. They can also let you know if there are problems at home that could be affecting your student’s performance.
Let the kids talk about what they feel. Pick topics in class that allows them to express their emotions. If they’re bottling all that up—the worry and stress, the anger and disappointment—that’s not going to be good for them. It could affect their long-term development as well. By letting them know that it’s okay to talk about how they feel, it’s okay to feel what they feel, they can process their emotions better. Also, once they’ve let that out, they’re going to feel like they just got a load off their chest. That’s going to help them feel better.
Normalize Asking for Help
In a culture that emphasizes the importance of not standing out, of being part of a team or group, it can be tough for many of your students to ask for help. That’s the mindset you want to change. Let your students know that it is normal for them to ask for help; that it’s all right if they show others that they need assistance. It’s not bad to need help. Don’t let them take on so much at their age. If they feel overwhelmed or stressed, if they’re drained and exhausted and they can’t see the point of anything anymore, that’s dangerous. Reach out to them before they reach that point.
Talk about mental health issues in class. Normalize these discussions. Now, more than ever, knowledge about mental health conditions matter. With the global pandemic affecting much of our personal and professional lives, many people, families, and communities might be in despair. It’s important that the kids know what’s happening. Spreading awareness about mental conditions might also help them recognize the signs if they’re struggling with the same issues or problems. It would encourage them to seek out help.
Students spend the most time studying. It only makes sense for teachers to learn more about mental health awareness to provide the help these kids need.