According to a report by the Mental Health Foundation, in the last three years, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50% .
Providing students with the necessary emotional, mental and physical support they need to thrive in the classroom environment has always been important, but the effects of the pandemic have only increased the need for schools to consider the mental health challenges faced by their pupils.
Mental health issues can have a huge impact on a person's productivity, academic performance, and overall wellbeing, so it is important for schools to be aware of the potential challenges and to be able to provide the necessary resources to help students cope.
54.1% of secondary aged children (11 to 16 years old) with an existing mental health disorder were more likely to say that the coronavirus lockdown had made their life worse .
Research suggests that when students feel safe and supported in the classroom, they are more engaged, more likely to take risks, and more likely to succeed. Creating an environment of safety and support in the classroom is an important part of developing a successful learning environment. Every student should feel comfortable and secure when they enter the classroom, but creating a culture of respect and kindness isn't always easy when you have a room full of unique and developing minds to nurture.
Having an open door policy for students to come and discuss any issues or concerns they may have sets a tone of trust, openness, and support. It encourages an environment of communication, mutual understanding, and collaboration. With this policy, children and young people may feel more comfortable expressing their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. It also helps build relationships between students and staff and allows them to ask for advice and support whenever they need it.
You may also find you are able to gain a better understanding of the needs and concerns of your students, allowing you to make appropriate changes to support their success, providing academic and emotional support, and connecting students with trusted mentors.
Wellbeing also creates a positive learning environment where students feel safe to explore, take risks, and express themselves without fear of judgement or criticism, to think critically and come up with innovative approaches to problem-solving.
It should be a priority to provide children and young people with the means to recognise and manage their mental health issues and academic stress. Achieving the highest grades or mastering complex mathematics are impressive accomplishments, yet if a student does not have the tools to maintain good mental health, then those academic accomplishments become insignificant. It's analogous to constructing a house on an unsound foundation; whatever efforts are made to make it beautiful, it will ultimately collapse.
But how should we approach children who are already dealing with trauma?
Developing strategies to effectively manage students who are dealing with trauma is essential for any teacher.
Here are some tips for educators to consider:
Establish trust and safety
Establishing trust with students is important for helping them to feel that the classroom is a safe place to discuss their experiences. This can be done through positive interactions, active listening, and creating a supportive environment.
Reach out to other school staff, such as counsellors and psychologists, to help assess the child’s situation and provide resources to help them through their trauma.
Allow students to share their feelings, struggles, and stories in a safe space. Encourage them to utilise creative outlets, such as writing, art projects, or music, to express themselves.
Different students respond differently to different strategies. Make sure to offer different options to the student that will help them succeed in the classroom. This may include extra time on tests, sharing their experiences in a journal, or utilising technology.
Trauma can manifest itself in different ways, and be triggered by different events or conversations. It is important to be aware of potential triggers, and to create an environment where students feel safe discussing their experiences.
It is important to be patient with children who are dealing with trauma. Understanding that different children require different strategies and timelines, and allowing for flexibility, is key.
Providing emotional, mental and physical support to students is paramount to their overall wellbeing and academic success. Providing support and resources for students to access when they need them can prevent more serious mental health issues from developing.
If you'd like to learn more about mental health and wellbeing, or how to foster a trauma-informed approach in school, check out our live and interactive online CPD courses linked below.
Next available course date: Friday 17th March (all courses can also be booked as whole school training with flexible dates available)
Next available course date: Tuesday 28th February (all courses can also be booked as whole school training with flexible dates available)