Supporting mental health in schools
Mental health has been hugely affected by coronavirus. The way we live our lives has changed. And although we may have had a few months to get used to this new reality, schools have only just reopened their doors after their summer break.
Teachers have been working relentlessly in recent months, ensuring structure procedures are in place, and a handful of our customers have already had to isolate classes – with students and teachers teaching classes virtually while they self-isolate. It’s stressful for both teachers and students.
In light of the ever-changing restrictions and local lockdowns, your day is constantly changing. Your school’s reactive approach to teaching is commendable, but what about mental health? How can you adequately monitor and manage the mental health of not just the children, but of your senior management team too?
Listen to their concerns and communicate
You can apply this to both your students and staff. Simply listening to their concerns can have a significant impact on how they feel.
With your students, it’s essential that parents and caregivers feel listened to and are communicated effectively with – a lot of the child’s anxieties can stem from the parent or caregivers’ own concerns – so go out of your way to support them as much as possible. Edsential suggests keeping an open dialogue between them and the relevant staff members by sending a short email or text message update. Simply confirming the child has settled and has had a good morning.
With your staff, they must have someone to talk to during this uncertain time, so consider an open-door policy to promote positive mental health. They’ve had to adapt quickly to changes never seen before in a school setting – talking through their worries and anxieties can help offload and tackle problems. Just sitting down with someone else who listens to their worries can help them problem solve. You’ll probably find that many of your staff members have similar concerns, so talking about them can help them realise they’re not alone in these thoughts.
Be kind to everyone and exercise patience
Everyone has had to deal with parts of their life changing. From how we shop, socialise, de-stress – it’s all changed. We need to be mindful that both children and staff are still trying to adjust to their new lives and with local restrictions changing almost daily, we need to all try and be kind – be kind to yourself, your staff, your students and their parents.
Take the time to check in with people around you, in both a work and personal setting.
Encourage social time
For students, having time where they don’t think about school, exams, or the pressure of learning, can help them de-stress. Encourage your children to take up a new hobby – whether it’s at lunchtime or after school. Children who engage in extracurricular activities – that may be a sports club, a science club or something similar, can boost their self-esteem and help them focus on their interests instead of challenges.
For staff, social time is also a vital de-stress tool. Thinking always about work is not a great way to unwind. Gently encourage your senior management team to take breaks actively, and to make time for themselves at home. Sometimes, teachers need permission to switch off – it’s healthy to have breathing space. If they’re unable to do this, look into why that is. Is there a better way to enable them some free time?
Remember, we’re all currently dealing with this pandemic, and if your teachers are burnout, this isn’t going to be a strategy that is sustainable for long.
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