“As many as 15 million children in the U.S. could be diagnosed with mental health disorders, according to the APA. However, as few of 7 percent of these young people actually receive the care they need.”
Student mental health problems are a very real presence in our global classrooms. Teachers and students face these challenges together every day. Recognizing them and knowing how to manage them is a crucial part of making a child feel safe in the classrooms they spend so much of their lives in.
We were intrigued to find this wonderful Edudemic article by Amanda Green on the subject of student mental health problems. Mental health is an integral part of a child’s holistic well being, and the connections to learning are clear. Students who are healthy learn better, perform better, and live better.
Amanda cites in her article some statistics that will get you thinking. For example, according to her research 13 and 20 percent of U.S. school kids suffer from mental health disorders, including 1 in 7 children between the ages of 2 and 8. Again, this is just in the United States alone. It’s something that is a reality all over the world.
The following four student mental health problems are among the most common. Amanda goes into important detail about 10 of them in her article.
- ADHD: A neurodevelopment disorder characterized by short attention span, excessive activity, and difficulty controlling behaviour.
- Anxiety: A term for a group of mental disorders causing nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.
- Depression: A common mood disorder characterized by a negative overall state of mind, fatigue, and lack of interest in most kinds of activity.
- OCD: A chronic long-term disorder where someone has uncontrollable thoughts and behaviours they repeat over and over.
What Can Teachers Do?
Teachers are on the front lines when dealing with student mental health problems. As such, they can detect such problems early and work with parents and administrators to get kids the help and support they need.
Here are some helpful tips from Addressing Mental Health Disorders In The Classroom by Bruce Van Stone:
- Reduce some pressure by breaking tasks into smaller pieces, offering flexibility with deadlines, and giving the student a quiet private space when necessary.
- Whenever possible, talk to the willing student about what they are experiencing.
- Ensure other classmates know what is happening with the student—this can avoid them making assumptions or marginalizing what the affected student is dealing with.
- Check in with parents regularly and keep them updated—be transparent.
- Never dismiss a student’s feelings about what they are experiencing—compassion is key to proper management of student mental health problems.