There is no room for uncertainty in a child’s life, especially when it comes to mental health problems. Somehow or other, by reinforcing positive practices or through behavioral interventions, or both combined, a child’s mental health should come first. Of all schools, there are a few that best handle mental health issues because those schools have somehow contrived to infuse academic culture with mental health issues.
However, not all schools succeed in recognizing mental health issues. What does this mean for the future of children? This means that as educational institutions, we need to recognize the causes behind mental health problems. And, through this post, we will do so and tell you why does mental health matter?
Why Does Mental Health Matter?
Addressing mental health issues in schools is vital because one out of five children deal with at least one episode of depression. As a result of which, most students fail to succeed. And the bad news is, it is estimated as many as 80% of the students do not receive proper mental health care. This also means. in the next few years, we will be presented with mental health concerns on a large scale and we have to take crucial steps and nip the situation in the bud.
So, here's why each educational institution must inculcate mental health issues in the school curriculum:
First and foremost, mental health problems can affect both children and adults. Age will not stop mental health problems from cropping up. And medical conditions like depression and anxiety lead to suicidal tendencies. Second, early intervention will help students face depressive episodes bravely and third, students with good behavioral health will score well in the exams.
Also, did you know that 40% of the students with mental health issues pass out from high school compared to 76% on the national level? This is a striking revelation because mental health problems no longer live under the shadow of shame. Which brings us to the next point.
Strategies schools can imply to improve mental health conditions?
Social interactions and academic curriculum are both vital for students to succeed in general. In fact, schools should look forward to maximizing negative impacts and enforcing positive habits. To achieve the same schools can include these possible strategies and accommodations.
Start by restructuring the rules associated with deadlines. In other words, allow students to submit work after the deadline is over. Next, authorize the teachers with anti-anxiety and anti-depression tools. So that they can intervene and help the students cope with difficult situations. Then, move forward and plan classroom activities like group discussions and motivate students to share stories. Last but not least, allow opportunities to de-stress and never burden students with tremendous work pressure.
How to navigate mental health issues in schools?
It is just a matter of time, patience, and proper guidance when it comes to mental health problems. In fact, as a parent if you face such issues you can discuss the problems with the concerned teacher and let them know your concerns. By doing so you are allowing the teachers to look into the behavior of the children. Also, your child will need all the support they can get.
If in case the situation does not improve, you must include the head master or the principal and underline the vitality of the situation. Usually, higher authorities have a better understanding of such situations.
If that doesn’t resolve the problem you may also want to try to include other school staff such as the principle, social worker, etc. In addition, if your child receives private or public mental health services it may be helpful to ask your child’s therapist to be a part of the meeting as well, as they may be able to provide some much needed insight about what might help your child.
Before any of these meetings take place it is always helpful to take the time to prepare by listing your concerns, including the things that you think your child is struggling with at school and the things you think will help them. It can also be helpful for you to think about the things that might make your child worse or aggravate their mental health condition.
When you meet and share your concerns, whether informally or in a formal meeting the professionals at your school will be able to offer suggestions about strategies they think may help. Again it can be helpful for you to review possible accommodations prior to the meeting with the school and select some to share that you think might be especially helpful for your child.
After the meeting with the school where you discussed your child’s needs the school may want to do some classroom observations to better understand your child needs. Then you can work with the school to agree to put some strategies in place to help your child be more successful. It is important to keep in mind that the first try isn’t always a success. You and the school may find out you need to go back to the drawing board and come up with new strategies.
If you are unable to get the school to put strategies in place or adjust them if they are not working, pleas feel free to call ACMH for help.
In addition to the suggestions above ACMH also has a pre-recorded webinar presentation: Meeting the Needs of Students With Mental Health Challenges in Schools located on the Michigan Alliance for Families (MAF) website that you can listen to by clicking here that may help you as you advocate for your child.
Michigan Alliance has several other videos on their site that may be helpful to you and they have Parent Mentors in each region of the state who can assist you to better understand the special education process and partner with your local school.