7 Ways to Promote Mental Health Awareness in Schools
Originally published October 10, 2019 and updated October 16, 2020.
It may be daunting to broach the subject of mental health and students, but there’s reason to be optimistic: 70% of mental health cases that appear in children can be addressed through early intervention. Getting ahead of mental health disorders and offering support to those who need it helps at-risk students before their mental health issues become more serious. The good news? There are a multitude of ways to do just that.
While there are technological tools such as web filtering and monitoring that are essential for safeguarding students and can help identify mental health issues early, we believe it’s even more important to learn how to identify students struggling with mental health issues and focus on helping students become resilient. In this blog post, we have put together a list of resources you can use to help promote mental health awareness in your school and create a positive mental health culture.
Why mental health awareness in schools is important
The World Health Organization estimates that close to 20%, or one in five students, are actively dealing with a mental health issue. For students, suicide is the second leading cause of death. The number of students today experiencing mental health problems is also on the rise.
For help identifying students at risk of suicide and how to help, download our Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Students Whitepaper and check out the resources provided by the World Health Organization.
Identifying the signs that something is wrong
There are many signs and circumstances that may identify a student suffering from mental health issues. Small changes in behavior (such as being withdrawn or outraged after texting or using the internet) can be an indication of a much bigger problem (bullying). It’s important that we all become aware of the signs associated with mental illness, so we can provide support for those that need it. The earlier an issue is picked up, the better it is for the student.
For help identifying the students struggling with a mental health issues, plus tips on how to help them, download our Children and Mental Health Whitepaper.
What can I do to increase awareness?
It is essential that teachers provide students with the opportunities, resources, and support they need. Here are seven ways you can promote mental health awareness in your school:
- Promote positive self-esteem. Provide students with the tools and skills necessary to resolve conflict and the inevitable setbacks they’ll face. Boost their self-confidence by supporting good decision making, assertiveness, perseverance, and self-determination
- Encourage students to eat healthy and provide healthy eating options
- Provide outlets to relieve anxiety and stress. Physical activity, meditation and the arts are super for self-expression, growth, and work wonders on a student’s overall mental health and ability to handle stress
- Promote school policies that support mental health such as bullying prevention
- Make students and families aware of the technology and materials available to them. There are reasonably priced or free mental health apps students can download that make therapeutic techniques available and accessible. The material provided by the National Alliance on Mental Illness are designed to help change student’s knowledge and attitudes towards mental health conditions and seeking help
- Have an open-door policy – communicate to your students that you are available to listen to their concerns and issues. Communicate openly, honestly and often. Notice the little conversational openers students may offer up and ask non-judgmental questions. Be sure to pause and listen to what they have to say
- Provide places where students can relax, such as quiet areas and lounge chairs
Mental health disorders in students is a complex issue that requires a coordinated effort and multilevel approach from parents, schools, health care organizations, digital media outlets, and community outreach. Early detection and intervention are crucial factors in the goal towards reaching at-risk students before conditions manifest into more serious issues.