Having an open discussion on mental health in the classroom

In the wake of Mike Thalassitis’s death it is important to create an open environment to discuss mental health in the classroom.

Credit @studentmindsorg on Twitter

Last week Love Island star Mike Thalassitis passed away with co-stars and friends raising concerns about his mental health before he died.

Today (20 March) it has been announced that Love Island stars will be offered more support when leaving the show to help tackle mental health problems.

Mental health affects everyone, including your students, and seeking help can seem impossible. As reality stars speak out about mental health problems, it is important to provide an open, supportive environment for students.

This is especially important in the lead up to exams and leaving home for university or college, which can put extra pressure on students.

Curriculum

Half of mental health problems are established by age 14

The Curriculum for Excellence plays a part in ensuring your students have a safe
environment to discuss any queries or concerns about theirs or others’ mental health.

Mental health should be discussed during health and wellbeing classes alongside physical, social and emotional wellbeing.

This topic is often the first block of health and wellbeing discussed in class, reflecting on what was said or taught can help students to be open about their own mental health.

Before you start a new topic take five minutes to run a refresher session on how students can support each other and where they can turn for help.

The Scottish Government’s health and wellbeing principles and practices document outlines what you should discuss in these sessions and how it can help.

Discussion

Starting a discussion about emotions and mental health in the classroom can reassure students that it is ok to speak out.

Whether it is once a day or once a week, an informal chat with your class can help remove the stigma around discussing mental health.

Instead of teaching students about specific mental health problems again, take time to ask them if they are feeling stressed, tired or worried and why.

Removing the label of mental health problems can help to normalise the topic and make students more comfortable to discuss their feelings and concerns.

Support

One in nine children aged 5 to 15 has a mental health disorder

As a teacher you are trusted and respected by your students, this often means they feel comfortable turning to you for support.

If a student or colleague is seeking help with a mental health problem it is important to get them the right support.

If you believe there is concern for the wellbeing of a student it is important to speak to their parents of guardian.

Most schools have a student confidentiality agreement which prohibits you passing certain information on to parents without the student’s permission. It is important to check your school’s policy before contacting their parents or guardian.

Students who are struggling with mental ill health can be referred to your schools mental health staff like a school nurse or counsellor.

There are a host of charities that can offer help and support to young people struggling with mental ill health.

Young Minds

SAMH 

Samaritans 
Phone: 116 123

SeeMe Scotland 

How are you creating an open environment to discuss mental health in the classroom? Let us know on Facebook

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