Students’ mental health has long been a concern among educators for the past few decades. And, with the onset of COVID-19, it has grown bigger. Several variables contribute to a student’s emotional and behavioral health. These factors can be environmental, physiological, or social. And providing emotional support for students is beneficial for their growth and learning. But, it’s not always clear how to do so.
For educators, it is mandatory to develop and focus on a positive learning environment where students can thrive and reach their optimal potential to study. Studying necessitates dedicated time and effort. Hence, it can be taxing for one’s mental health. Students seek a teacher’s assistance because they have faith in and respect them. However, a teacher may find it challenging to know what to say, how to help or seek advice at times. Are you an educator facing a similar dilemma?
Nonetheless, we’ve compiled a list of mental health advice for teachers so that they can provide the best possible support to children seeking mental help.
Emphasize social and emotional learning (SEL)
Incorporating social and emotional learning in the classroom is beneficial at many levels. It provides students with a consistent technique for dealing with their emotions. Schedule direct social-emotional teaching throughout the semester to normalize and validate feelings. The goal is to teach students that it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling at any given moment. It equips students with resources for days they might be experiencing unpleasant emotions.
In today’s tech-savvy era, educational platforms offer online programs for teachers and educational leaders to acquire the expertise to engage students in SEL. This know-how empowers educators to mold kids into critical thinkers. For instance, the masters in educational psychology online program offers several intriguing courses. Teachers learn to promote an inclusive culture by developing students’ emotional, social, psychological, and cognitive differences through these courses.
Ask students to participate
Encourage students to make the classroom friendly, safe, and enjoyable. Use available resources for this purpose and follow the school safety guidelines. In this way, students will see learning as a fun activity. You, as a teacher, can ask them to decorate the walls, bring welcoming messages, carve out their imagination on papers, and work in small groups. In this way, students can help each other and catch up on their studies. The more actively youngsters participate in classroom activities and conversations, the more equipped they become to overcome their emotional complexity and shortcomings.
When a student asks questions, teachers can differentiate students based on their interests and intellect. Their musings reveal the areas of information they want to delve deeper into. Questioning provides juvenile minds the opportunity to channel such energy into their passion.
Another strategy involves celebrating the questions. You can, for example, pause the class and have the student repeat the question, so they feel valued. You can give students an inspiring prompt now and then and let their imaginations go wild. It will not only benefit the teacher but will also enhance the students’ creativity.
Promote social skills in the classroom
If you want your students to learn and have good social skills, you must set an example for them. Your friendly and upbeat attitude can set the tone for student behavior. You should also promote group activities to strengthen social skills. Within the group, students are frequently allocated tasks to uphold. These activities can help children develop social skills such as teamwork, goal setting, and accountability.
Hold weekly class meetings. These meetings are an excellent way to discuss individual and classroom concerns. Also, have your students write their own stories using characters who exhibit specific personality qualities.
Show that you are concerned
To show that you care for your students, you need to build strong student-teacher relationships. It enhances connectivity, learning, and healing. When students believe you care about them, their interest in studies increases. Teachers must listen to kids’ problems and display understanding and sensitivity. Allow children to have a one-on-one talk with you after school to reconnect and discuss any issues. Often, students may be hesitant to discuss their problems because they don’t want to upset anyone. But, you have to make them understand talking to someone in difficult times is the right thing to do.
Practice mindfulness with class
Teachers can create a soothing environment by hosting mindfulness sessions in the class. It can be the best stress-buster for students after a hectic study week. You can add breathing control and guided imagery techniques to the curriculum to let students focus on engaging with their surroundings.
Students who practice mindfulness in the classroom are more emotionally stable. It improves empathy and involvement in the school. Teachers can lead mindfulness workshops on a weekly or daily basis. Students will not become bored if the exercises are varied and of different lengths.
Reduce stress in the classroom
There are several ways teachers can reduce stress in the classroom. Assessments, rigid deadlines, and pressure to achieve good grades develop anxiety within students. You can collaborate as a team to prevent burdening students with homework or arranging multiple assessments on the same day. You can also encourage students to discuss and communicate their issues. Even five minutes spent discussing problems and later addressing them can help students overcome them.
Be watchful of warning signs
Keep an eye out for changes in your students’ behavior. Seek administrative guidance and directions if you see substantial changes in a child’s behavior over time. It may prohibit them from functioning or playing. If you think the student needs extra assistance to cope with mental health issues, contact child protective services, mental health specialists, or primary care physicians. As a responsible teacher, you should continue to provide learning support. If the student has difficulty concentrating, move at a slower pace.
Teachers may find it difficult to tell students everything will be alright. Nevertheless, they can make them feel protected, valued, and cared for during a difficult time by actively supporting their mental health in the classroom. If you have concerns about a student’s well-being, don’t be afraid to express them to them. They will often feel relieved that someone has noticed and cared enough to inquire about their well-being. Using the tactics listed above, you can make it easier for your students to develop mental strength and address their worries.