Discussing Mental Health in High School...

Discussing Mental Health in High School Classrooms

by Tiffany Chang
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Students can encounter many ups and downs while in high school. Therefore, being aware of mental health as well as having meaningful discussions about it during this time remain crucial. A productive place to do so is in the classroom because participating in these discussions when amongst others going through the same/a similar journey may not only help them navigate their challenges, but also just be a valuable facet of students’ overall at-school experience. For high school teachers/personnel who are planning on engaging in this with their students and looking to find some tips, here is what can be done and how to go about discussing mental health in the classroom:

Mental Health Should Be Brought Up More Often

It’s common for high schools to have discussions/presentations about bullying, usually for grade 8 students. While these are helpful and directly relate to mental health, the same should be applied to mental health in general as well as be discussed more often amongst all grades. Grade 12 students in particular are likely experiencing stress as they prepare for the next phase of their lives.

Establish That The Classroom Is A Safe Space

A good initial step is reminding students how classrooms remain safe spaces to talk about mental health. Having everyone, students included, involved partake in this reinforcement would be beneficial. Overall, requiring a collective responsibility is the best way to approach creating comfortable settings for these kinds of discussions.

Exchange Ideas and Thoughts On The Subject

A good place to start would be talking about what has been affecting their mental health as well as possible coping strategies. Some questions that could guide the discussions are:

  • Have you been feeling overwhelmed lately due to academics or other roles you’ve taken on at or outside of school?
  • If you are feeling down, is there anything you can do on a regular basis that might make you feel better?
  • Can you name some activities that are typically associated with self-care?
  • Have you been seeking ways to improve your mental health but are experiencing difficulties with it?
  • Do you think seeing a counselor or any other mental health professional would help?

For most if not all, knowing that they’re not alone can make a significant difference. It’s especially reassuring when people receive support from peers and/or others their own age. Also, while students (of course) shouldn’t feel pressured to talk about what they’re exactly going through if they’re not 100% comfortable, consistently providing them with encouragement to open up to anyone they trust if need be or even to just express how they’ve been doing can contribute to an increased comfortability.

On the whole, mental health is an important subject to discuss during high school and should be brought up on a more frequent basis. Facilitating these discussions and giving students an opportunity to talk about it would have a positive impact on classroom culture and key factors that play into this is having a safe space so that they feel supported as well as comfortable speaking up. If the ideas above are taken into consideration by high school teachers/personnel, everyone involved is on the right path to meaningfully discussing mental health in the classroom.

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