Mental health is a condition that describes the overall wellness of your mind and thoughts. And when it gets disturbed, it becomes a difficult situation to deal with, especially for children. These problems are distressing to children and disrupt their ability to think and act reasonably in different situations. It is essential to identify any warning signs of mental health issues in children, and the school can help promote mental health awareness through education.
Though we understand the sensitivity of mental health issues, we still tend to stigmatize mental health problems. In most of the scenarios, mental health issues are ignored and taken for granted.
Studies show that mental health issues sometimes even start at the school-going years. Thus, it is vital to impart education and proper awareness about mental health right in school-going years. And thus, the role of schools in promoting mental health becomes pivotal.
"Fifty per cent of mental illness begins by the age of 14." - American Psychiatric Association
The mental health conditions in children can be the same as adults. However, their symptoms can be different. Commonly, children suffer from the disorders like anxiety disorder, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, etc.
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What is the Role of School in Promoting Mental Health in Children?
School plays a significant role in shaping the minds of children. The joyful yet progressive environment that any school can provide to a child is irreplaceable by any other substitute. Moreover, the link between children’s health status and learning is substantial. Issues related to mental health such as low esteem, stress, and coping with emotional responses have a clear connection with the overall well-being of any child that can be well dealt with efficiently with school cooperation.
Good health is critical to children’s success in school and life. Research demonstrates that children who receive emotional, social, and mental support perform better academically. The complete environment of the school, i.e., school climate, classroom behaviour, on-task learning, and students-relation with each other, impacts significantly on the overall mental health of any child.
“Mental health not only indicates the absence of mental presence, but also encompasses the social, emotional, behavioural health, and the ability to cope with life’s challenges.” – Role of school in child’s mental health by Swapnajaidupally, V KavithaKiran.
Research says that when the mental health needs of children are addressed, the school also path its way to success. The improvement in the relationship that surrounds any student brings in a positive change in a school environment.
School is an ideal place to provide mental health support to any youth and student.
However, unfortunately, too many children and teenagers do not receive much support and help from their respective schools. And when these mental health issues are left untreated, it comes out as a negative outcome, like behavioural issues, low esteem, etc.
Schools, being an ideal place to provide mental health support, their professionals like school psychologists can provide the necessary learning environment for appropriate prevention and intervention. After all, school is the place where children spend most of their time of the day.
Role of Teachers In Promoting Mental Health
Students spend most of their time with their teachers. Hence, the teacher can first identify the signs and symptoms of any mental disorder or issue. Teachers can work effectively with any psychological expert within the school system to learn about the support and care provided to any needy child. Teachers play an essential role in building a positive atmosphere in the class. A teacher can help any student to bring up the morale and encourage to build up self-esteem. Positive and happy communication with the teacher can help students handle their frustration, stress, and anger.
What can Mental Health Education in School Impart?
Mental health education can provide information about mental health conditions and illnesses to students. It can help students clarify their attitudes, understand their values, and recognize their behaviour and emotions. Raising awareness and providing knowledge about an illness may not be solely effective unless it is accompanied by proper and practical support. The pedagogy of teaching should be functional, include real-life cases and be relevant to student’s life. Schools can also serve as training centres for parenting skills. Parents can learn more about child development with mental health issues, skills required for effective handling of the situation, and support to enhance self-worth and competence.
In a true sense, schools may not be eager to imbibe mental health education in their curriculum because of increased pressure on test scores and academic records. Furthermore, with fewer resources and help available for schools, they may be reluctant to meet the needs of any student dealing with mental issues. Thus, schools can partner with social support communities and families to ease out the full responsibility. Families can provide real-time help, and social communities can manage the practical handling of student issues while being at school.
Remember, together we can, alone we can’t.