Promoting Student Mental Health as a Teacher

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  • 0:03 Teachers and Mental Health
  • 0:38 Mentalization
  • 1:25 Explicit Strategy Instruction
  • 2:17 Family Communication
  • 3:10 Warning Signs
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Teachers play an important role in promoting the mental health of their students. In this lesson, you will learn why mental health is important and how you can help your students feel emotionally healthy.

Teachers and Mental Health

Teachers have a lot of responsibilities: helping students progress academically, taking on community leadership roles, and maintaining a safe classroom environment, just to name a few. Yet perhaps nothing is as important in a teacher's work as promoting the mental health of students. Students who are mentally healthy are more motivated, self aware, and able to participate in a classroom community. Moreover, students struggling with mental issues benefit from teachers who are supportive and aware of the issues they're facing. Let's learn about how you can promote your students' mental well-being.

Mentalization

One of the most important ways that teachers can promote students' mental health is via mentalization. This concept refers to a constant process of attempting to understand another person's experience. As a teacher, you can dedicate time each day to thinking about what your students are thinking and feeling. Keep in mind that every individual is different, so you will have to know your students and consider the ways they change over time in order to do an effective job at mentalization.

As you gain in skill at mentalization, your students will benefit from the sense that they are understood at school. They will feel safer taking risks and asking questions, as well as reaching out when they are struggling with something. Furthermore, you and your students will all benefit from the wonderful sense of closeness that can come from understanding another person's point of view.

Explicit Strategy Instruction

Teachers can also work to help their students somewhat more explicitly with mental health. it can help to teach students particular strategies for taking care of themselves, as well as how to handle stressful scenarios. For instance, you can teach your students to:

  • Meditate or do yoga as a way of coping with stress
  • Talk to trusted friends or adults when emotions or stressors feel overwhelming
  • Learn about triggers for hard feelings, like sadness and anger, and then learn how to prepare themselves when these triggers arise
  • Name the things they are good at as a way of promoting their self-esteem, or sense of who they are and what their strengths are, and confidence
  • Understand that hard feelings and struggles are a natural part of life, and not something to feel ashamed of
  • Eat nutritiously, get enough sleep, and get regular exercise as a way of reducing stress and coping with challenging times

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