How to support mental health in classrooms

Mental health affects many children, with 75% of diagnosable mental health conditions being present before the age of eighteen. Mental health in young people often goes undiagnosed, however, with an estimated 20% of children having an undiagnosed mental illness.

With depression and anxiety being some of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents it is crucial for those working with children to be able to recognise the signs of mental health conditions in adolescence and understand how to support them effectively.

Although mental health training in schools isn’t considered “mandatory” by the government, teachers play a key role in supporting good mental health. Without the right training, however, it can be hard to know how to support mental health in the classroom. Training initiatives and campaigns such as Headucation can support you in better understanding mental health in the classroom and how you can support your students.

Tips for supporting mental health in classrooms:

1. Understand mental health needs within schools.

Being able to define mental health in children and understanding the factors that affect children’s mental health is an important step in learning how you can support mental health within classrooms. Mental health affects all children differently and therefore having a solid understanding of the needs within your school will allow you to provide the right support and information to students experiencing mental health issues. Have a look at our Youth Mental Health Awareness training course if you are looking to upskill and educate yourself or your staff to help you understand the mental health needs within your school.

2. Learn to recognise and understand the symptoms of mental health

Most schools should have a trained Mental Health First Aider, or Youth Mental Health First Aider, however providing all staff with the knowledge they need to recognise and understand mental health symptoms will give you the ability to support your Mental Health First Aider and will lay the foundations for you to implement a mental wellbeing plan. By understanding the symptoms, you will be better equipped to give support to someone struggling with mental health and facilitate the recovery process. Our Basics of Mental Health Support training course provides an overview of the mental health process that covers all of these areas and more.

3. Understand what factors affect mental health in classrooms. How can you limit these?

Sometimes there can be factors within a school setting that can affect a child’s mental health. Identifying these factors can allow you to better understand how to support someone struggling with it. Cyberbullying, for example, can affect mental health in young people. Understanding what it is, how it occurs and the effect it has on people’s mental health will allow you to both offer support to those affected and reduce their exposure to it within the school environment. We offer several self-learning courses that support your understanding of different areas of mental health and factors that can affect mental health in individuals.

4. Educate students about mental health

Learning about mental health in schools helps to reduce stigma around the topic by raising awareness and providing children with accurate information. By starting a conversation with young people about mental health you can increase their understanding and awareness and reduce stigmas and the fear of judgement often associated with mental health. Read more about different ways to start a conversation about mental health in your classroom.

There is a lot of stigma around mental health, especially in young people, and it can therefore be difficult to identify mental health concerns in schools. Following the above tips can help you support young people struggling with mental health, however, it is equally important to remove the stigma associated with it. This February we are running out annual Sock it to Stigma! campaign to raise awareness about the stigma associated with mental health and the damage it can cause. Help your school show an understanding and acceptance of mental and emotional wellbeing challenges in both children and staff. #SockItToStigma is a fun and interactive way to get these conversations started. Use this opportunity to talk about mental health in your classrooms.

One of the key ways you can support young people with their mental health is by referring them to expert or expert resources and by providing alternative mental health support for those who don’t wish to visit their GP for support.

Teachers and schools play a vital role in the support of mental health conditions in children, but they need more help to do it effectively. Our #Headucation campaign aims to train all UK teachers in the basics of mental health support which will allow them to comfortably provide children with the support they need.

All funds raised during #SockItToStigma will go straight into our #Headucation fund. Help us to provide as many fully-funded training sessions to schools as possible. Help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses.

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