Students who feel safe and supported will perform better at school. (Rawpixel pic)
Giving school students the space to focus on and deal with their mental and emotional troubles will help them perform better, which strengthens the school as a whole.
Here are some suggestions for school heads to help support the mental wellness of their students.
1. Hire school counsellors, psychologists, and social workers
It is important to hire staff who are professionally trained to handle the mental ups and downs of student life.
The minimum number needed to take care of each student will depend on the number of students.
School counsellors give students someone to talk to about day-to-day anxieties or unhappiness while psychologists deal with larger conflicts and help ease long-term anxiety and pain.
Social workers support students who are dealing with external issues.
2. Provide school-wide courses on cyberbullying
No matter how safe the school environment, the internet exists. Though technology offers many benefits for learning and keeps children engaged and happy, it can be used for the wrong purposes.
Students, staff and teachers can all be responsible for or complicit in cyberbullying.
Whether the school has known cyberbullying issues or not, school-wide internet programmes and courses would be a good investment.
3. Train teachers in mental health
Though the specifically trained professionals must be responsible for most monitoring of mental wellness in schools, some responsibility should be delegated and teachers should know how to handle a crisis. Mental health training courses for teachers would be useful.
The importance of creating open-door spaces for the students should be emphasised, where young people feel comfortable talking about issues with their educators.
4. Organise a wellness week
Every school should hold a wellness week each semester. Offer workshops on healthy eating, crafting a self-care routine and active listening.
Listen to the student body and try to tailor the week to the content they are interested in. Get teachers and staff involved in the week as well.
Give students resources and education outside the school. It is the duty of an educator to ensure students feel safe and taken care of while they are learning.
Student mental wellness means school wellness
If students are miserable, the school will suffer. While studying and excelling academically are important, ignoring students’ emotional and mental needs will lead to a negative school environment.
Talk with colleagues and staff members about how to make education more mindful of those being taught.
Teacher and staff happiness are also important. Healthy teachers and staff reflect positively on the school culture.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg and host of The DRH Show. You can connect with him on Twitter @drelojo_howell