Teachers’ Role in Student Wellness
06 Sep 2019 #Mental health
Students often find themselves confused, tired and stressed out due to the excessive pressure of studying, meeting parental expectations, matching up to peers, and keeping up with hectic schedules. These grueling pressures and adversities take a toll on their mental health and wellness. They may grow academically, but most often fare harshly on the emotional and social frontiers of life. Hence this reminder – ‘There is no health without mental health’.
Mental Health awareness among students is an important issue for teachers as they are often the first responders to its negative manifestations. As Brad Henry said, “A good teacher inspires hope, ignites the imagination and instills a love for learning”. In the process, they not only impart information, but are understanding of the needs and challenges of students and give support to help them succeed.
Here are 10 ways teachers can help in building emotionally strong and healthy future students:
1. Notice the warning signs: Be alert and identify any drastic changes in the student’s behaviour such as being withdrawn, feeling sad and tired, appearing sleepy in class, mood swings or anger outbursts, being disobedient, inattentive, or not studying.
2. Be supportive and understanding: Reach out when you realise that a student is struggling with something. Show you care and give them time and attention. Be considerate, giving him or her sense of being understood.
3. Encourage them in decision-making: Draw connections to real life and involve students in decision-making. Hand over some control and let them be their own self. Promote confidence to speak up and seek help for their problems.
4. Reinforce positive behaviour: Help them build prosocial values intended to help other people, teach them assertiveness and positive coping strategies (meditation, relaxation, positive self statements), and promote healthy lifestyle emphasising regular exercise, having well balanced meals, adequate rest and sleep.
5. Ensure safe school environment: A positive school climate is one where an individual feels valued and cared for. For this, it is essential to build effective communication among all the students and teachers, foster respect for diversity, promote unbiased view of others, and prevent instances of ragging or bullying.
6. Enhance child’s self esteem: Reflect interest in all children and provide opportunity for each student to develop their talent and flourish, giving them a sense of identity, purpose, and belonging. Maintain realistic and positive expectations from each student, facilitating security and competence.
7. Being non-judgmental and having unconditional positive regard: As an academician, evaluate the adolescent’s performance in school and class. But do not equate the child with his performance and judge him or her for it. Be accepting of the individual differences in everyone’s abilities. Show patience with him or her.
8. Be a friend: Try to be that adult who the adolescent can come up to, to share thoughts and discuss problems. Make him feel safe to ask questions and make reflections.
9. Promote social and emotional competence: Help the adolescent build positive social connections and develop relationship skills, confidence, emotional self-regulation and self-awareness.
10. Spread Awareness: Educate the staff, parents, and other students about mental health and illness, help them understand its impact and discuss ways to access support and intervention. Students look up to their teachers for guidance and advice and the bond of trust that ensues allows for teachers to make a difference in students’ lives.
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