Build better mental health and wellbeing in the classroom By Paul Matthias, National Director of Hays Education
As mental health and wellbeing becomes an increasing priority for schools, we’ve put together our top tips on how you can promote positive mental health in your classrooms.
Giving students the knowledge and awareness about mental health is the first step in forming a culture of positive mental health in school. A useful initial activity would be to have an assembly to form an open discussion about what students think mental health is and addressing the reality of mental health and its different forms. This concept could be rolled out termly and even extended out to the wider community by inviting parents to also attend. Parental involvement would aid in creating a sense of community, all dedicated to building awareness of mental health and wellbeing.
It’s important to go further than raising awareness of mental health in schools. Try to tackle the possible stigma and prejudices surrounding mental health in order to set the right tone and culture in your classrooms. This could also be addressed with a Q&A section as part of the assembly, so any thoughts or questions surrounding mental health can be answered. This will help students to be more understanding and compassionate to anyone who may be dealing with mental health issues.
Communication is key
Having a clear focus on mental health awareness in the classroom and school lets you have a basis for communication between you and your pupils. By openly addressing what mental health is you will build confidence in your students, allowing them to feel more comfortable when talking about mental health. The more that communication is encouraged will ultimately help maintain a positive wellbeing ethos in the school.
Set an example
Teachers who put their own mental health first and are willing to discuss their experience with students having difficulty will help to normalise the discussion of mental health. They can help share experiences and techniques to help students manage their own wellbeing.
If your teachers need help looking after their own mental health, we offer 10 wellbeing training courses as part of our free Wellbeing First training package. Take a look today to see how else you can help your staff.
Assign dedicated roles
Alongside the first four tips, it’s a good idea to assign a dedicated ‘Mental Health Champion’ within the school. This person will have the task of ensuring mental health awareness is maintained and that any activities you should decide to integrate into school life are acted on. Also, publicly assigning this role to a member of staff within the school gives everyone a clear point of contact should there be any questions, suggestions or concerns about mental health and wellbeing.
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