Everyone should think about their own mental health, just like they do for their physical health. Students, as well as teachers, can use some extra support to maintain good mental health. Anxiety and depression are surprisingly common in children, and the rates have increased over time. But despite the statistics, many schools do not have adequate resources to address the mental health needs of their students.

This is where teachers have an opportunity to step in. Teachers are in a unique position to support the mental health of their students. They see their students every day, so they get to know them very well. This means they can pick up on early signs that something might be wrong. They can also build positive relationships with their students, which can help to notice when things are wrong or prevent problems from developing in the first place.

Of course, teachers can’t do everything on their own and it can feel like a lot of pressure. They need help from school staff, parents, caregivers, and external agencies. But they play a vital role in championing the mental health of young people in schools. So how can teachers promote mental health care within a school?

1. Start the conversation around mental health

First things first, it’s important to spread awareness about mental health in your school community. This can be done through presentations, bulletin boards, or even just casual conversations with students and other teachers. By starting the conversation, you can help create a more supportive and inclusive environment for all students.

You could also hold events or campaigns to raise awareness about mental health and how to get help. Or try to connect students with local mental health professionals or support groups.

As an additional step, talk to your school administration about the importance of mental health care and be an advocate for more funding and resources for mental health services.

2. Promote positive mental health habits, such as self-care, mindfulness and exercise

As a teacher, you have the opportunity to promote positive mental health habits in your students. By modelling self-care, mindfulness and exercise, you can help your students develop healthy coping mechanisms that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Self-care is all about taking the time to nurture yourself, both physically and emotionally. Taking a break when you feel overwhelmed, even for just a few minutes, can make a world of difference. When you model self-care for your students, you show them that it’s okay to put their own needs first sometimes.

Mindfulness is another important mental health habit. It involves paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. This can be tricky for kids (and adults) who are used to living in their heads. But with practice, mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s also been shown to improve focus and concentration.

Exercise is another great way to promote positive mental health. It releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. And it gives us a chance to get out of our heads and into our bodies. Even just a few minutes of movement can make a big difference in how we feel.

3. Don’t forget about yourself

Teachers have one of the most important jobs in society. They help to shape the minds of young people and prepare them for the future. However, teaching can be a very stressful profession. Working long hours, dealing with challenging behavior and working away at a screen into the evenings – it can take its toll on even the most resilient individual.

That’s why it’s so important for teachers to prioritize their own mental health at work. By taking breaks when they need to, maintaining a healthy work-life balance and seeking help if they’re struggling, teachers can help to ensure that they’re happy and healthy in their jobs. In turn, this will enable them to provide the best possible education for their students.