Today is World Mental Health Day 2019, with this year’s theme: focus on suicide prevention.
“Mental health is defined as a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her potential, can cope with their normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” (World Health Organisation, 2014)
In today’s society, more and more students struggle with their mental health. According to the NHS, 75% of all mental health problems are established by the age of 18.
The amount of pressure put on school children is increasing, as the workload becomes more burdensome and the content more challenging. Alongside academic pressure, bullying is another contributing factor to mental health issues faced by children in schools.
Schools are additionally put under pressure to achieve academic excellence whilst supporting students and their mental wellbeing. In a survey conducted from 8,600 school staff (including teachers, teaching assistants and school leaders), 83% stated they had seen a rise in the number of children with unstable mental health (The Guardian, 2019). Many teachers, as a result, said they felt a sense of helplessness in the situation, which is made worse by funding cuts to schools, resulting in a lack of support. Providing that children spend on average 7,800 hours at school, it is important that schools and staff keep an eye on their student’s mental wellbeing.
Changes by the NHS
Changes are undergoing by the NHS, who have launched a new mental health training programme for teachers in every school and college across the UK. The £9.3 million scheme will benefit students providing more support through a series of workshops for members of staff across schools. The aim is to raise awareness of mental health issues amongst young people at a time when it is crucial, and provide specialist help when needed. This scheme commences in September and is offered to 22,000 schools and colleges. One in nine young people from ages 5 to 15 suffering from a mental health condition. The NHS plans to improve upon this by aiming to identify the issue in its early stages before becoming more crucial.
Students should feel like they are able to talk to their teachers regarding any mental health difficulties they may have, providing they spend so much time at school. A positive relationship between a teacher and their students is crucial for their wellbeing.
Here are some ways that teachers can assist with students’ mental wellbeing:
Talk to students about mental health
Assure students that they can ask for help whenever needed
Make students aware of how and where to get help
Listen and empathise in times of need