This month Tick Education are looking into how teaching staff can best support mental health in schools. Signs of mental health struggles can develop in children from a young age and sometimes it can be tough to know how to help them. It’s so important we promote awareness of mental health in schools and those children feel supported and are not afraid to speak out. Here we look at the most common form of mental health in schools, anxiety.
Adults and children alike can suffer with anxiety. Identifying the signs of anxiety and supporting children through it at a young age, can help with their confidence and ability later on in life. As a class teacher, you will play a huge role in their development. Here we look into anxiety further and what you can do to help.
What is anxiety?
A lot of children suffer with nerves when it comes to going to school, just as adults can do about work. However, according to child mental health experts, 1 in 10 can suffer with anxiety so severe it prevents them from doing what they actually want to do with their life. Certain scenarios can heighten anxiety such as reading aloud and interacting with peers. Some children may displace physical side effects such as panic attacks, when others may seem very quiet or worry a lot. One of the main issues with mental health in schools is that it’s so difficult to tell when these signs are a cause for concern.
How can you help as a teacher?
- If you have a child who is anxious about a certain activity, slowly introduce them in to facing their fears. For example, get them to speak in front of class once a week.
- Instead of straight away reassuring the child that it will be fine, ask them to think about when they’ve done it before and how it went. Get them to self-reflect, it may help them to realise it’s not all that bad.
- Small rewards or praise when they have faced their fears could go along way. The child may start to see their feared activity in a positive light.
- Undertake further training. CPD is so important in the career of a teacher. There are many courses available online about mental health in schools, led by professionals in the industry.
Mentalisation is the ability to see things from someone else’s point of view. It does not involve specialist skill or tons of research. According to child mental health experts, seeing things from a pupil’s perspective is a key principle of good teaching. This can really help you if a pupil isn’t performing as well in certain areas.
Even though not all pupils struggle with mental health, it is good practise to use these next tips with everyone. Every pupil will face struggles at some point in their school life. Here are the 3 key pointers to help them get through it.
- Empathise – If a pupil seems quiet or you suspect they are worrying about something speak to them. It could be good to start with “You seem to have a lot on your mind, what worries you?”.
- Show interest – Show you care about what your pupils are feeling. Ask them to tell you how they are finding the work instead of going in with a direct question. Get them to open up.
- Be open – Be open to their thoughts instead of being stuck in your ways.
Together we can get children opening up about their mental health. Helping mental health in schools can lead to a better mental health in all other aspects of a young person’s life. For information on courses see https://www.futurelearn.com/subjects/psychology-and-mental-health-courses/youth-mental-health . Future Learn have a wide variety of courses, with lots of them being free of charge.
Tick Education provide fully vetted staff to schools in the Bedfordshire area. Click her to see what vacancies we have available – www.tickeducation.co.uk/jobs