It’s no secret that high school can be a challenging time for many students. The demands of juggling academics, social life, and extracurricular activities can be overwhelming, adding to the pressure of college applications and standardised tests. It’s no wonder that so many students struggle with mental health issues. So what can high schools do to support their students’ mental health?
Educate students, staff, and parents about mental health
Mental health is an important issue that needs to be addressed and discussed; this is why educating students, staff, parents, and the school counsellor about mental health is a vital step. While countless resources are available now more than ever, it is crucial to ensure everyone in the educational community is aware of these resources and the signs and symptoms of a mental health crisis.
It is paramount that school personnel receive training on creating a supportive atmosphere in addition to learning procedures to follow in the event of an emergency. It takes a team effort to destigmatise the conversation surrounding mental health, starting with providing age-appropriate education for everyone involved.
Promote open communication about mental health among students, staff, and parents
Mental health is an important topic for everybody to discuss openly and honestly. We need to make sure that we are creating an environment, starting from the earliest years of schooling, in which it is safe for students to discuss their mental well-being. Similarly, educators and parents should also be open when discussing these issues; providing guidance and resources during conversations is an excellent way to foster dialogue.
Open conversations about our mental health help us remove any stigma or shame associated with such topics and encourage understanding between all involved. Open communication about mental health can go a long way towards creating positive change.
Create a safe and supportive environment for all students
Creating a safe and supportive environment for all students is essential to fostering an atmosphere where each student can thrive. We should lead by example in setting boundaries, respecting differences, and investing in meaningful conversations about our shared learning experiences.
We can promote an inclusive environment by engaging in preventative conflict resolution strategies which reduce social barriers between students of various backgrounds and experiences. Building strong relationships with learners will also empower them to feel comfortable expressing themselves and sharing their ideas without fear of judgement or reprisal.
Provide resources and support for students struggling with mental health issues
Providing resources and support for those struggling with their mental health is essential to create an environment that helps promote healthy mindsets and improved well-being. This could involve structural changes on the campus level where adequate prevention, detection and treatment of mental health issues is available to all students.
Providing support hotlines or consultations with counsellors can help students facing challenging times by offering them a safe outlet to connect with experts with experience in addressing such issues. Even using new technology by creating a forum or digital platform that encourages peers to talk openly about their experiences can also provide invaluable emotional support to students.
Help students develop coping skills for dealing with stress and anxiety
As a teacher, helping our students cope with stress and anxiety can be one of the most rewarding activities we undertake. By giving them the skills they need to face these stressful situations and finding mechanisms to express their emotions healthily and safely, we can make a considerable contribution to their formative years. Regular classroom activities and discussions around mental health can create an environment of openness where it’s okay to talk about these issues and start forming habits for managing worry and fear in their daily lives.
Engaging in activities such as role-playing can also be helpful; this will allow the students to explore different techniques without exposing themselves personally, allowing them to try out different responses before going into real-world situations. Making sure our students have a toolkit of coping strategies will give them the confidence that no matter what comes their way, they can meet it head-on with resilience.
As we can see, there is a need for better mental health awareness and education in schools. Student well-being should be at the forefront of every education system, as their performance largely hangs on their mental well-being. Just like an athlete needs to remain physically healthy to perform, our students should also remain mentally healthy to get the best outcomes.
Providing students with the knowledge, resources, and skills to live a mentally healthy lifestyle is integral to their overall success. Educators should be responsible for fostering an environment conducive to discussion and support mechanisms in their community. With all these factors combined, it is possible to create an inclusive and supportive environment where good mental well-being thrives.