School Mental Health
“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”1. School mental health includes all aspects of social-emotional development of school-age children including mental well-being, illness, risk, and protective factors.2
Read more about mental health here.
Social-emotional development, mental health and literacy, and academic achievement are strongly connected. Everyone can experience mental distress as a normal response to the day-to-day life stress without a need for professional intervention.
While some students manage stressors on their own, others might need, for example, support from their family. From time to time, students can experience more severe psychological stress (symptoms could be e.g. negative emotions, disturbing thoughts, behavioral difficulties, sleep problems). Some levels of mental distress are normal, but everyone processes them in different ways and for different lengths of time.
Schools are ideal platforms for universal interventions to improve mental health of children and adolescents, offering optimal feasibility, cost-effectiveness, scalability and equity.3, 4, 5 The school is an optimal environment for mental health literacy programmes, providing unlimited opportunities to learn and practice navigating healthy relationships, communication, conflict management and resolution, and coping skills. Teachers are the most effective at delivering such programs, and play a vital role in building and maintaining a healthy classroom environment.
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Teachers’ mental health
Teachers’ mental health is often neglected, and a large proportion of school teachers present high levels of burnout.
Promoting classroom mental health and well-being starts with teachers’ role-modeling healthy behaviours to their students. On My Mind teacher training modules include self-care and burnout prevention techniques to support teachers in their work as learning proactive strategies may be useful in preventing teacher burnout.12
Burnout can provoke diverse problems (even mental illness), affecting teachers, their students, and the school. There are several consequences related to burnout on a physical (e.g. fatigue, headaches, sleep disorders), psychological (e.g. irritability, sense of incompetence, restlessness) or behavioural level (e.g. annoyance, problems with family, partners or friends, impaired quality of life).13
- volume of workload
- constant time pressure
- neverending social interactions
- conflict resolutions with students, their parents, colleagues and supervisors
- strong public accountability
- inadequate financial reward
- lack of appreciation from society
- administrative burden
- frequent changes in the educational system14