Writers: Jisu Oh and Yuna Kim
Editor: Marijn Raemaekers
Many adolescents struggle with mental health issues and increasingly so as the surging pandemic of COVID 19 has, in one way or another, disrupted the lives of all of us. Over the past two years schools in many regions have shifted from face-to-face to hybrid learning programs and, as much of the Philippines has grown accustomed to - the rigors of full distance learning.
We all know about the stress, anxiety, and many other mental health issues that school can cause alongside the positive environment it builds in which we learn more about ourselves and others - but how exactly is school and our mental health related? And, what can schools do to increase the mental health of students whilst also decreasing the stigmatic thinking that surrounds the struggles of it?
School is where students spend most of their time, which makes it their second home. Moreover, school has both negative and positive impacts on students’ mental health. Many students experience stress due to school work and pressure from their parents or even themselves. One in five children or adolescents suffers issues in mental health throughout academic years.
On the other hand, studies proved that schools where students have access to mental services help to improve the overall performance of the student. In addition, the provision of mental health support for students who struggle in different areas leads to a better academic performance. Thus, schools have the capacity to fight these problems with their power to create a safe and healthy school environment by providing access to mental health services.
This begs the question, what else can schools do to help those struggling with their mental health? And how can they fight the stigmatic thinking that comes along with that?
Efforts to care for the emotional well-being of children and youth can extend beyond the classroom and into the entire school. School-based mental health programs can focus on promoting mental wellness, preventing mental health problems, and providing treatment.
Some effective programs that have been listed by MentalHealth.gov include:
The promotion of a healthy social and emotional development of all children and youth
Recognition of when young people are at risk for or are experiencing mental health problems
Identification of when and how to intervene early and appropriately when there are problems
Educators have the ability to support the mental health of all students both within the classroom and the school - not just individual students that exhibit behavioral issues. Some suggested actions and strategies to implement this include:
Education of staff, parents, and students on symptoms of various mental health issues (specific anxious behaviours and concerning eating habits, mood swings and changes in personality, suicidal thoughts, and overwhelming stress outbreaks)
Promotion of social and emotional competency and the building of resilience
Ensuring a positive, safe school environment
The teaching and reinforcement of positive behaviors and decision-making
Encouraging helping others and a positive, open environment
Education and promotion of good physical health (the body and mind rely on one another to be healthy!)
Provision of access to a wide range of school-based mental health support systems
It is no secret that the mental health of adolescents and their education is a relationship in which one can very often determine the success of the other. Recognizing this symbiotic relationship is the first step to establishing educational systems in which one’s mental health is not overlooked and rather supported and accepted.
Curious to learn more about our February 2022 topic of education, visit our Instagram for more topic specific posts on information and some tips for YOU to state taking steps to better your mental health.
National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). "Comprehensive School-Based Mental and Behavioral Health Services and School Psychologists." National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). 10 Feb. 2022. https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/mental-health/school-psychology-and-mental-health/comprehensive-school-based-mental-and-behavioral-health-services-and-school-psychologists.
"For Educators | MentalHealth.gov." Mentalhealth.gov. 23 Mar. 2019. 10 Feb. 2022. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/educators.