Schools and educational institutions have been hit hard because of the health situation. They have been forced to shift everything online and familiarize not only the students but their teachers as well. With fears still looming about second waves, the mental health of students is becoming an important issue of debate and concern.
The sheer negativity around the health situation with loss of lives and economic hardships have added untold grief and misery. Young minds are more susceptible in this regard. Being young, they are unable to cope up with the myriad challenges that the health situation has thrown up.
Many teachers, parents, and institutions like the WHO and UNICEF have stated how it is important to help kids deal with mental health issues.
In this article, we speak with teachers at one of the top international school in Singapore to try and identify ways in which students can be helped.
Identifying the Students that need Support for Mental Health Issues
According to experts, it is important to set in place a mechanism that can help students get screened for mental health issues. You need to understand that more than adults, younger minds are more guarded about coming out in the open for fear of being judged.
Many of the best schools are using psychological tests through Google Forms and asking students a set of questions. This is a very analytical procedure to understand which students are under stress and duress during the health situation.
Schools must work through teachers, school counselors, and parents of the students to identify the ones that need care. Teachers can play a major role as they are the ones that are frequently interacting with the students through regular online classes.
How Awareness on Mental Health Issues should be discussed with Sensitivity
We have already mentioned that younger minds feel more conscious about discussing mental health concerns. They do not want to come across as weak or be accorded special considerations under any circumstances.
Attempts should be made to integrate topics on mental health as a regular discourse. Encouragement from teachers, the principal, and the counselor can go a long way in egging on students to come forward and discuss their issues.
Anonymity is something that is suggested by experts. Other students and their friends should not know what a particular individual is going through. Kids can be incredibly harsh and insensitive. This is why having one-to-one sessions privately can make kids feel confident enough to come forward and discuss their issues.
The Role Played by the Professionals of the School in addressing Mental Health
Shifting to a completely online medium of education has been tough. Kids have had to learn ten different things, use software, submit exams and assessments online.
This has been taxing. School professionals must take an active and regular interest in addressing mental health concerns.
- School Counsellor
Most schools have mandated the presence of a school counselor. During the health situation, the role of the same has assumed immense importance. A counselor should be more like a friend that can help school students understand what are mental health issues and how they should be addressed.
The teachers are probably the professionals that interact with students in the most regular fashion. While they are overburdened, they must see signs in kids that alert their attention to mental health issues. Students are more likely to open up with their teachers about such issues.
Being the highest functionary in a school, the principal can impress upon all others the sheer importance of mental health. He or she can lead the way in showing how it should be done. Coming from the highest administrative head, this will put in motion a series of steps to address and tackle mental health concerns.
The Bottom Line
We need to understand that the routine of kids is now affected for more than a year. They are not meeting their friends, or spending time in an environment they are familiar with. It is natural that they will feel depressed, anxious, and stressed. It is up to the school to ensure that this is tackled adequately and professionally and with a lot of compassion.