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Four reasons for mental health issues amongst children and how schools can help them?

Did you think adults are the only ones who experience mental health issues? The reality is that children, too, suffer from mental traumas and health problems, similar to adults. Mental health issues in children can be challenging to gauge. Although there are signs that can help identify psychological problems, most parents do not notice them. Moreover, children may not express what they are going through.

Parenting from Prison

In most cases, when children struggle at school, a mental health issue is not the point of focus for most parents. Socioeconomic status or a child’s personal life can be why a child has problems in school. Parents or teachers overlook that something deeper is going on that needs attention.

No parent wants to see their child suffer in any way. Parents must develop an open relationship with their children to give them the confidence to talk regularly about their feelings from an early age. It is the first step towards bonding with a child.

In school, children often face mental health issues that may arise due to several factors, such as being bullied or abused. Academic performance and mental health have a direct relation. For example, children dealing with a social anxiety disorder or suffering from trauma may not participate in classroom activities.

Creating awareness and a safe environment for the students can help them with mental health issues. To understand psychological problems and help children with mental health disorders, teachers can enhance their knowledge by opting for an online masters in school counseling. Learning more about behavioral changes and mental health can help teachers resolve the issues that their students are facing.

Before we further discuss how schools can help children with mental health issues in detail, let’s look at the reasons for mental health issues amongst children.

Parent’s Separation

Children experience feelings of loss, anger and guilt as the world they know changes. It is hard for them to decipher the reasons for separation and understand what will happen next. Children often believe that they might have been the cause of their parent’s separation.

Kids going through such stressful times have externalizing issues from impulsive behavior to conduct disorders. The impact of separation on the child’s mental health depends on the child’s age, the circumstances of separation, and the extent of support from family and friends. 

Social Media

Social media is a medium that has allowed people to stay connected with each other from the comfort of their beds. Unfortunately, where social media has changed our lives for good, it has affected children’s mental health. According to the Common Sense Media Census, an average child aged 8 to 12 spends five hours every day on social media.

Time spent on social media can impact the mental well-being of children. Hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and anxiety result from a great amount of time spent on social media.  Websites like Facebook and Instagram can provoke feelings of comparison with other people that can lead to depression. Time spent on social media can also reduce a child’s communication skills. 

Bullying

Bullying has many forms, from verbal abuse to cyberbullying. It impacts physical and mental health. Most children do not report bullying to their parents as they get worried about the outcomes. Anxiety, damage to self-esteem, and depression are the outcomes of bullying.

Some of the signs children exhibit are withdrawn behavior, avoiding school, and feeling ill. Children are at significant risk of getting bullied due to different appearances, disabilities, or having an introverted nature.

Academic Pressure

Today, one of the biggest reasons kids are stressed is academic pressure. Apart from the pressure to succeed, technology has changed how students interact with teachers in today’s time. With the ongoing health crisis, technology has become the digital medium for students to keep up with their studies.

Digital learning may have helped students learn, but it creates problems like feeling isolated and losing their schoolwork due to technical errors. It develops anxiety and stress since children are worried about their academic performance. Students have peers to communicate with within a classroom, but when they are learning at home, the academic pressure increases. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jill a dull girl.”

How can schools help children with mental health issues?

Mental health issues in children addressed within time can prevent worse outcomes. Since parents are less likely to detect signs, schools can help children with mental health issues. They can create an environment that will positively impact their emotional well-being. It is the responsibility of teachers to understand what is happening. Failing to acknowledge the child’s struggles can make matters worse. Protecting a child’s mental health can significantly impact their life. Here are some ways that schools can help children with mental health problems.

  • Educating Staff and Children

To help students or children struggling with mental health issues, every school community member must know about the signs and symptoms. A teacher should know the warning signs of mental health issues and deal with them. 

The teachers can then educate students on detecting if they have mental health problems and whom to turn to if they are experiencing any issues. Educating children can include having mental health check posters around the school or teaching lessons on mental welfare.

  • Positive School Environment

According to data, about 3 in 4 children aged 3-17 years have depression with anxiety. Untreated mental health conditions can lead to distraction from learning and school engagement. Creating a positive school environment mitigates the effects of trauma on a child.

A positive environment can include teaching social and emotional learning skills and finding solutions to learning barriers. Furthermore, schools can promote a feeling of motivation by providing strategies to help students become independent learners. Rewarding children for learning efforts and kindness can create a positive atmosphere. 

  • Encourage Interaction

Bonding with friends and meeting new people can make children focus on something other than exams or schoolwork. Schools can encourage students to interact by arranging group activities or scheduling regular break times to relieve students from the pressure of studies.

Teachers in the classroom can incorporate strategies that encourage interaction amongst children. Grouping children with unique personalities can contribute to learning how to interact with different types of people. For example, working with puzzles in the classroom can also enable shy students to interact with their class fellows should they face a problem somewhere.

  • Organizing wellness week

Schools can promote mental health and well-being by organizing wellness week for the students. Arranging different activities during wellness week will not promote well-being for students only. It will benefit the school staff as well.

Arranging a yoga class provides students the opportunity to connect mind and body. Yoga is a great way to divert the mind from the stresses of daily life. Arranging a yoga class even once a week can be an excellent way for students to stretch and relax.

Schools can organize fun activities like a bake sale or pottery classes. In addition, schools may arrange different types of exercises such as kickboxing and martial arts to engage the mind and body.

Final Thoughts

Thousands of people suffer from mental health issues daily. Unfortunately, most people do not understand that children are also are at high risk of developing mental health problems. While parents may not be able to detect the signs of mental health issues in children, forming a relationship with children can give an insight into what is wrong. Schools can help children with mental health issues in more than one way. 

Children’s mental health-related concerns are often overlooked. This is because it is difficult to discern whether emotional and behavioral changes are a part of normal childhood development or an early sign of a growing problem.

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