Supporting Student Mental Health

Supporting Student Mental Health
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Supporting Student Mental Health

April 2021 | Issue #23

As we approach the end of the school year and as schools return to in-person instruction, we may see a shift in the mental health of our students. This may include changes in self-management of stress, dealing with a wide range of emotions, and challenges with social interactions. Children experience stress under typical circumstances related to academic performance, social activities, family dynamics, and current events, but the conditions of the past year may have affected how they master their school-life balance. They may have trouble being able to self-regulate, cope, or seek support from caregivers and educators.

For example, state testing begins in April and completing these assessments through distance learning will add an additional layer of student anxiety regarding academic performance. Educators can provide support by reminding students that increased stress and anxiety are normal feelings to have during this time, and that sharing their feelings is an important step in navigating challenges successfully. You do not have to have a certification in the domains of mental health to support your students’ wellness or to promote social emotional learning. We can preventatively address potential stressors by bringing awareness to the importance of mental health and by encouraging students to actively practice self-care.

Mental Health Awareness Week takes place between May 18th through May 23rd, and we would like to share a few considerations for supporting your students:

Six Strategies for Supporting Your Students

  1. Validate
    • Validate how students feel as they share their thoughts, experiences, and emotions. Provide affirmation, support, and emphasize that sharing is “ok.” We may not agree with aspects of what they share, but it is important to provide a lane of communication that is non-judgmental.
  2. Set Expectations/Boundaries
    • Clearly define what is expected from students in their daily routines and set boundaries by helping them to understand and identify their needs while being respectful and understanding of the needs of others.
  3. Keep Communication Open
    • Consistently provide opportunities for your students to share their feelings and experiences. We are not suggesting that you take on the role of a counselor but listen attentively and allow your student to share uninterrupted. It is important to build a relationship that allows students to feel comfortable discussing important aspects of their lives with you.
  4. Model Non-Anxious Coping
    • Share helpful coping skills you have used to navigate stressful situations with students and help them select different things to try that may work for them i.e., breathing exercises, timed breaks, or journaling. It is important for adults to model effective coping skills in difficult moments. Praise their efforts and continue to check on their progress. Working with your student through anxious or tense situations will help your student progress and learn calming skills they can continue to use in the future.
  5. Watch for Signals of Struggle
    • Watch for changes in students’ attitudes and activities. Signs and symptoms of struggle may include lack of interest in preferred activities, drastic changes in style of dress, withdrawal from school and social groups, or other observable differences in their external world. You may also notice changes in how they communicate with you regarding their feelings and thoughts.
  6. Self-Care
    • Encourage students to make time for self-care activities that will help to reduce their stress. Small changes in schedules like making time to take a walk, doing short exercise routines, or choosing to go to bed a little earlier than usual can reduce stress and help students feel more relaxed and resilient.

Try using these six strategies with your students and remember to consider them for yourself as well! Small changes in your daily routine can further strengthen your resilience as new challenges arise. Even the smallest consideration for our students’ mental health will have lasting benefits.


Check out these additional resources for great examples.

Childmind Educator Guides for Support

Childmind Parent Guides for Support