3 Tips to Promote Mental Health in Schools

3 Tips to Promote Mental Health in Schools

We need to take action now! The mental health epidemic in schools is a pressing concern that demands urgent attention. All over the world, students and teachers are facing unprecedented levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. Factors such as academic pressure, social media influence, family dynamics, societal expectations, and so much more are contributing to the growing prevalence of mental health issues among students. Left unaddressed, these challenges can have profound and long-lasting effects on students’ well-being, academic performance, overall quality of life, and teacher burnout. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health challenges, text SCHOOL to 741741 to reach a live volunteer Crisis Counselor – plus, check out these 3 tips to learn what you can do to support mental health in schools today. 

Why should mental health be taught in schools?

Promoting and teaching mental health in schools is paramount for cultivating an environment where students can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. Teachers play a crucial role in nurturing the mental well-being of students by fostering a supportive and inclusive culture, providing access to counseling services, and integrating mental health education, like Crisis Text Line’s “Teacher Tools for Student Mental Health,” into the curriculum. By offering resources such as mindfulness practices, peer support programs, and initiatives to address bullying, school leaders and teachers can empower students with the skills and tools they need to manage their mental health in school, build resilience, and navigate challenges effectively.

“Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people ages 10-24,” said Dr. Shairi Turner, Chief Health Officer at Crisis Text Line. “I believe that suicide prevention education in every middle and high school across the country is essential. And with the right measures in place, it’s largely preventable.”

By providing students with knowledge about mental health issues, symptoms, and resources, schools can help  students recognize when they or their peers may need support. On the flip side, there is a concern about oversimplifying complex mental health issues or inadvertently reinforcing stereotypes. It’s essential for educators to receive proper training to deliver accurate and sensitive information about mental health in a developmentally appropriate manner, which  can be expensive and challenging given limited resources in the school system. Together, we can work to overcome these concerns.

How to promote mental health in schools

Tip #1: Create a supportive environment by sharing mental health tools and resources with your students.

It’s important to foster a supportive and inclusive classroom environment where students feel safe, valued, and respected. Once a safe environment exists, integrating actionable mental health resources into the curriculum or lesson plans can help to increase awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues. Having a conversation with students about mental health can teach them about stress management, coping strategies, and emotional regulation skills. Mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques are some existing tools to help students manage stress and anxiety. 

To help facilitate conversations about mental health in schools, we’ve created a set of new tools and resources for teachers to add to their lesson plans prior to Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Our goal is to help teachers feel  prepared to support their students’ mental health.

Tip #2: Promote physical activity and encourage healthy habits.

Encouraging regular physical activity through sports, exercise programs, or outdoor activities can help students build healthy and safe habits which can combat mental health issues. Physical activity has been shown to improve mood, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. 

Educating students about the importance of maintaining a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and practicing good hygiene habits is also equally important to their mental health. However, while healthy habits contribute to overall well-being and can positively impact mental health, it’s important to teach these with care and thoughtfulness, so as to not make students feel judged or unaccepted.

Tip #3: Consider involving parents and guardians

Establish a confidential and nonjudgmental space where students can seek help and support. In these situations, it can also be extremely valuable to engage parents and guardians in discussions about mental health and provide resources for families. You can inform families and guardians about the “Teacher Tools for Student Mental Health” for Elementary School, Middle School and High School being used in the classroom, and encourage them to practice the same mindfulness and healthy habits at home. Collaboration between schools, families, and friends is essential in promoting student well-being, and destigmatizing mental health. 

It’s important that schools, educators and teachers recognize the gravity of the situation and prioritize mental health in schools, as well as provide resources for students. Collaboration between schools, families, mental health professionals, and policymakers is essential in addressing the mental health epidemic in schools and ensuring that all students have the support they need to thrive. Remember – if you or your students ever need free, confidential and nonjudgmental support – we are here for you, 24/7. Text SCHOOL to 741741 to reach a live volunteer Crisis Counselor. Or if you are interested in making a difference in someone’s life, join our volunteer community today!  

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