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A Guide for Teachers: How To Improve Mental Health in School

In today’s fast-paced and demanding educational landscape, educators must prioritize the mental well-being of their students if they want to improve student outcomes. This blog aims to equip teachers with practical strategies, resources, and insights to create a nurturing environment that supports learners’ needs.  

If you want to learn more about how to improve mental health in schools, you’re in the right place. Get monthly updates about K-12 mental health breakthroughs in the eLuma Newsletter


How To Improve Mental Health in Schools 

By recognizing the significance of mental health and implementing effective measures, we can pave the way for happier, healthier, and more successful students. Let’s dive in and discover how we can make a positive impact on the mental well-being of students, one classroom at a time. 


What’s the Importance of Mental Health in Schools? 

In today’s world, students face numerous challenges that can significantly impact their emotional well-being. Academic pressure, social dynamics, bullying, and personal struggles are just a few examples of the hurdles students may encounter. When mental health is neglected, it can harm students’ academic performance, overall well-being, and long-term success.  

Here are some statistics that highlight the presence of mental health challenges students face: 

  • 50% of lifetime cases of mental illness begin at 14 years.  

  • 1 out of 7 students between the ages of 10-19 years experience a mental disorder. 

  • Depression, anxiety, and behavioral disorders are among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. 

  • Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. 

These facts are incredibly concerning. However, by prioritizing mental health in schools, educators can create a supportive and inclusive environment that promotes emotional resilience, self-care, and positive coping strategies. By addressing mental health proactively, schools empower students to thrive academically, socially, and emotionally, setting them toward a brighter future. 


How Can Teachers Recognize and Respond to Student Mental Health Concerns? 

The ability to recognize and respond to student mental health concerns is a crucial responsibility for teachers and can make a significant impact on their overall well-being.  

Here are some strategies that can help educators recognize and respond to student mental health concerns:  

  1. Familiarize Yourself With Common Signs
    Teachers should familiarize themselves with common mental health concerns and the signs that they could be emerging to identify students who may be struggling. 

    Common warning signs include significant behavior changes, withdrawal from social interactions, persistent sadness or irritability, difficulty concentrating, declining academic performance, and more.
  2. Maintain Open Communication 
    Always do your best to foster a supportive and trusting relationship with your students. Encourage open communication by creating a safe, non-judgmental space where students feel comfortable expressing their feelings and concerns.  

    Regularly check in with your students and be attentive to any changes in their demeanor or behavior. Children might not be free to express themselves at home, so having a safe space at school can be life-changing.  
  3. Collaborate With Other School Professionals 
    As a teacher, it will be beneficial to establish a collaborative relationship with school counselors, psychologists, and other support staff to ensure a comprehensive approach to student well-being. They can provide valuable insights, assessments, and recommendations for students needing additional assistance.  

    Never hesitate to reach out to your support team. Even if you aren’t sure if a student is having a significant issue, other professionals will have additional insight and can lead you in the right direction.  
  4. Educate Yourself on Resources
    Stay informed about emerging mental health resources and support services within your school or community. Be prepared to provide students or parents and guardians with information and referrals to appropriate professionals or organizations offering specialized help. 
  5. Practice Empathy and Understanding 

    When students confide in you or exhibit signs of mental health concerns, responding with empathy and understanding is crucial. Listen actively, validate their experiences, and assure them that seeking help is a sign of strength. Offer support and reassurance that they are not alone in their struggles. 

    Remember: While teachers can play a vital role in recognizing and responding to student mental health concerns, they are not expected to diagnose or provide therapy. The goal is to create a caring and supportive environment that encourages students to seek help from trained professionals. 


What Are Some of the Best Ways Teachers Can Create a Supportive Classroom Environment? 

Creating a supportive classroom environment is crucial for fostering positive learning experiences and promoting students’ overall well-being. Creating a safe and supportive space makes students more likely to confide in a teacher or licensed professional if they’re struggling. 

Here are some strategies that can help educators recognize and respond to student mental health concerns:  

  • Establish a Rapport - Build positive relationships with your students by genuinely showing interest, care, and respect for each individual. Go out of your way to get to know their interests and strengths. 

  • Set Clear Expectations - Establish clear rules, routines, and guidelines for behavior and academic performance. Communicate these expectations consistently and reinforce positive behavior. 

  • Recognize Varying Learning Styles - Offer a variety of instructional strategies and resources to cater to diverse learning styles and abilities. Differentiate instruction to meet individual needs, and provide timely feedback to encourage growth and improvement. 

  • Foster a Growth Mindset - Encourage students to embrace challenges, learn from mistakes, and believe in their ability to grow and succeed. Emphasize effort, persistence, and resilience as essential components of learning. 

  • Recognize and Celebrate Achievements - Acknowledge and celebrate the achievements, both academic and personal, of your students. Provide positive reinforcement, praise their efforts, and create a culture of appreciation. 

  • Involve Parents and Guardians - Maintain open lines of communication with parents or guardians and regularly update them on student progress. Do your best to involve them in their child’s education through conferences, newsletters, or other forms of communication. 

  • Promote Collaboration and Teamwork - Create opportunities for students to work together, collaborate on projects, and learn from one another. Foster a sense of community and teamwork within the classroom. 

  • Make Yourself Available Outside of Class - Some students may feel more comfortable confiding in a teacher outside of class time. You can set up “office hours” or designate your room as a “drop-in” room, where students can use a resource whenever they need. 


eLuma Offers Mental Health Services in Schools 

eLuma offers innovative teletherapy and MTSS solutions that are transforming student support services for school districts across the nation. Our team of dedicated professionals works closely with schools to provide personalized interventions that drive positive outcomes for students. By harnessing the power of technology and human connection, we’re creating a brighter future for education! 


This blog post was originally posted on eLuma’s website. eLuma is a valued CEC partner, and we thank them for allowing us to share this blog with our audience.

eLuma Online Therapy


Posted:  17 May, 2024

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