Mind Matters: Prioritizing Student Mental Health and Well-Being

Mind Matters: Prioritizing Student Mental Health and Well-Being

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Student Mental Health and Well-Being

The WHO constitution states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Mental health has a profound impact on our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. It also shapes how we respond to stress, interact with others, and make decisions. Health and happiness are the manifestations of well-being. 

The term “well-being” encompasses various psychological and physical capacities. It further emphasizes that mental health is a state of well-being characterized by self-awareness, the ability to handle everyday challenges, the capacity for productive work, and the ability to contribute to one’s community.

Students face numerous obstacles, with managing their emotions and mental health, navigating relationships, understanding their gender and sexuality, and dealing with academic stress ranking at the top of the list. It is no surprise that many young adults experience mental health problems, such as despair and anxiety, in addition to academic difficulties. As a result, students struggle to achieve their academic goals.

Why are mental health and well-being crucial in schools?

These aspects hold significant importance in schools because educational institutions have a vital role in assisting students in making healthy choices and understanding how those choices impact their mental health and overall well-being. The formative years of childhood and adolescence are pivotal in shaping long-term attitudes towards one’s well-being and lifestyle preferences. The social and emotional knowledge, skills, and behaviors that young people acquire in the classroom help them develop resilience and lay the foundation for lifelong management of their physical and mental health.

Schools can provide students with accurate information and help them gain a better understanding of the decisions they need to make. Additionally, they can equip students with the intellectual abilities necessary for critical reflection on these decisions and the societal influences that impact them, such as peer pressure, advertising, social media, and family and cultural values.

How to prioritize students’ mental health and well-being?

Gain the confidence and trust of parents

Historically, schools have placed a strong emphasis on the academic success of their students. However, as time goes on, schools are adopting a growth mindset and changing their approach to student instruction. A comprehensive education that prepares children for challenges both inside and outside the classroom is now seen as essential. Parents, too, prioritize their children’s happiness, and a positive school experience is a crucial factor for them, along with superior educational standards, strong rules, skilled teachers, and improved student safety.

Also Read: 8 Ways teachers can support Students’ Mental Health as they return to School

Improve the standard of education

By incorporating social and emotional competencies, such as individuality and teamwork, into the curriculum, schools can enhance students’ overall well-being. However, it is common for students to lose interest and motivation, which negatively impacts their performance. By identifying the underlying causes of student disengagement and providing support to help them address these issues, schools can significantly improve academic performance. Interventions that promote well-being have a positive effect on student outcomes, especially those that foster student engagement and a sense of belonging, provide mentoring, and support the development of their social and emotional skills. 

Reduce students’ troublesome behaviour

In order to navigate the physical and psychological changes that come with puberty, students must learn to manage peer interactions, understand their identity, and cope with the stress of school. Throughout life, children go through various stages, and it is important to recognize and address abnormal behavioural changes. These changes may include feelings of depression, inability to focus, significant mood swings, withdrawal from friends and activities, sleep difficulties, fatigue, substance abuse issues, changes in eating habits, and even suicidal thoughts. Students with poor mental health are more likely to display deviant behaviour.

Mental health literacy can help combat stigma

A straightforward strategy for schools looking to promote mental health is to encourage conversations that normalize the subject and spread positive attitudes. This includes minimizing the shame and guilt that students feel as a result of mental health issues, ultimately eliminating stigmas that discourage them from seeking treatment. When supervisors, teachers, and staff have the necessary tools and knowledge to support students facing difficulties, the school culture shifts. Creating a supportive school environment provides children with a safe space to seek out mental health support services, ultimately enhancing learning and academic success.

Social and emotional learning can be used to teach students how to manage their emotions

Social and emotional learning can empower students to manage their emotions.

Students who receive social and emotional learning are better equipped to control their emotions and actions. Programs that emphasize emotions, relationships, and decision-making have been found to improve academic achievement and reduce behavior issues, emotional distress, and substance use—contributing to a safer school environment. Through social-emotional learning, students develop skills such as recognizing their emotions, building healthy relationships, setting attainable goals, and showing empathy. Schools can provide teachers with training to incorporate social-emotional learning activities into their curricula, giving students the opportunity to practice and apply these skills.

Provide students with a solid foundation for future success

In addition to a strong intellectual background, success in life requires collaboration and effective communication skills. Do schools equip students with the necessary life skills to thrive in today’s challenging job market? By teaching resilience, schools can support students’ mental health and prepare them to handle life’s hardships. Encouraging the development of a growth mindset better equips children to face the challenges of adulthood with confidence and a love for learning. Furthermore, it instills the belief that the process of learning is just as valuable as the end result. Children who adopt these attitudes will approach life with a positive mindset and a thirst for knowledge.

Also Read: How much physical activity do children need?

Even when students start with the same knowledge or ability level, those with growth mindsets outperform those with fixed mindsets. Schools can implement programs that teach resilience and foster well-being, aiming to help students develop social awareness, responsible decision-making skills, self-awareness, and leadership abilities over time.

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