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Better Mental Health in Schools

Pupil mental health and wellbeing is something that over the past two years has seen a substantial rise, with children as young as nine talking about or considering suicide.

For too long taking about mental health and has been a subject / matter that has been considered a “taboo” naively misunderstood and underestimated. The power of unaddressed mental health issues has seen 8,821 registered suicides in the UK in the past year alone. However, understanding and addressing mental health issues especially in schools is something that has become prevalent, affecting children younger and younger in age.

As a teacher you then become the point of call for all these issues:

Just as physical health, mental health and mental wellbeing are part of a wider spectrum. Throughout our life time there are several factors that can lead to us to move up and down the spectrum, from moving to a new house, getting a new job, relationships, deaths and trauma.  Sometimes there is not one single factor that can cause someone to fall into mental health problems. It is important to understand that different people can react and be affected by things in different ways.

So how can you help?

TOP 3 : Classroom Tips to incorporate mentally healthy practice in the classroom.

  • Start conversations about mental health – Understanding how mental health is understood and viewed by your pupils is important as it will allow you to guide discussions, conversations and activities around your pupils responses and may help you to understand their point of view. Get the students to write on post-it cards or white boards, all of the different words that represent what mental help means to them. Look at common themes and misconceptions and explore what makes them feel that way or what influenced this idea. Try and get them to discuss with someone with opposing ideas.
  • Demonstrate and model good habits – Children are very impressionable and often learn from behaviours they have seen, sharing ideas about how you take care of your own mental health can normalise this concept.
  • Take time to listen – empathising and acknowledging your pupils issues rather than immediately trying to ‘fix’ their problems will show pupils that you care and are taking them seriously.

Check In Activity: HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR PUPILS, ARE THEY REALLY OK ?

What are you feeling today ?

The check in and check out zone will allow you to keep a close eye on how your pupils are feeling whilst protecting their privacy and encouraging them to find their own voice and sense of independence. Everyday your pupils would “check in” writing their name and a short note on the sticky side of the post-it card. They would then stick this face down, this way no one can see their name or message. During a break or some free time you can read and check where on the chart pupils have checked- in. This will allow you to address any problems or issues your pupils are experiencing. Once you have dealt with each check-in the pupils can then check out. This could be done similarly as a traffic light system  or an emoji wall depending on what works better for you as a teacher and your pupils. 


Posted in Education
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