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Anxiety, depression and other disorders of the mind have become increasingly discussed in society. The increase in the incidence of these diseases also raises an alert for the importance of talking openly about mental health in education.
At a time of social isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is common for feelings of loneliness and uncertainty to surface even more in mental health problems. Even at a distance, educators need to be concerned and provide the necessary assistance to students.
In this article, we want to share with you a little about this topic, showing how it fits into the context of children and adolescents and how it can be discussed wisely today. Continue reading and check out our tips!
What you will find in this article:
What is mental health?
To speak of mental health is to speak of balance. It is the ability to reconcile the emotions felt with the experiences of everyday life. When this aspect is well developed, the person achieves a better quality of life and harmony in their interpersonal relationships.
On the other hand, gaps in mental health allow the development of diseases such as anxiety and depression. According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), Brazil has the highest rate of depression in Latin America and the highest rate of anxiety in the world.
Mental health problems can appear due to excessive pressure in some area of life, such as work, family, love relationships and trauma, for example. As much as the balance between emotions and experiences seems simple to achieve, the truth is that many individuals are not properly prepared to deal with their own feelings.
Why talk about mental health in education?
The lack of discussion on the topic has been combated in recent years, with the objective of raising society’s awareness and, consequently, reducing the rates of depression and suicide. The school community cannot be left out of this conversation and, therefore, it is essential to talk about mental health in class.
Anyone who thinks that mental illness affects young people and adults is wrong. According to the WHO, mental disorders become responsible for 16% of situations of bodily injuries and illnesses in people aged 10 to 19 years. The organization also shows that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers between 15 and 19 years old.
In the school context, situations such as bullying, pressure for high marks, difficulty in acceptance and problems with parents and teachers can become triggers for indiscipline at school and for disorders that mark adolescence and adulthood.
Considering the role of educational institutions in forming healthy citizens prepared for the challenges of society, it is essential to bring this topic up for discussion. Talking about mental health in class cannot be taboo, but it is a safe space for children and adolescents to expose their doubts and create an in-depth understanding of the subject.
What is the best way to approach the subject in class?
To talk about mental health with students, democratic school management needs to ensure a safe and correct approach to the topic. In addition, it is important that the language used is appropriate and reaches all ages. Here are some tips for discussing the topic with the school community!
The first step is to train those who will be spokespeople for the issue. Educators need to have a clear view on how to deal with mental health with students of every age. In addition to talking about the topic, they must know how to answer questions and even deal with more serious situations that may arise.
The board can offer training and lectures on mental health to the faculty. There are several scientific researches that can be shared to support the subject. In addition, it is possible to suggest playful approaches that have better engagement for each group of students.
Work on mental health issues
If you still don’t talk about mental health at your school, what should be done at first is to start addressing the topic and issues related to it.
The Yellow September is an example of a national campaign that can be brought to the school context in a natural way, generating awareness and starting a discussion about suicide and disorders that can lead to this extreme. Disciplines such as sociology can address issues of identity and belonging, which can also be linked to students’ emotional problems.
It is interesting to make the students themselves research on the topic. This can be done through papers and presentations, for example.
Promote moments of conversation and integration among students
The school has a great responsibility to become a safe space for conversations about mental health. Therefore, initially it is essential that the educational institution does not favor situations that can cause psychological harm, such as discrimination, competitiveness and excessive pressure.
Instead, it is necessary to promote moments of frank conversation about anxiety, depression, suicide and other topics that involve mental health. This can happen in the classroom, in targeted support groups and even among students through voluntary initiative with encouragement from teachers.
During online classes, this exchange time is also necessary. It is essential to show that the positive links of the school environment continue to be maintained even during periods of social isolation.
The important thing is that students who are facing challenges in this area feel free to share their dilemmas and find acceptance in the academic community.
Encourage the development of socio-emotional skills
One of the factors that causes many young people and adults to have mental illnesses is the lack of the development of some socioemotional skills even in childhood and adolescence. When overly concerned with technical skills, parents and educators often overlook emotional and behavioral aspects.
The school can be a great incentive for this more complete development. Working on communication skills, for example, is essential for children and adolescents to be able to clearly expose their thoughts, in addition to listening to suggestions and advice. In addition, empathy generates a better understanding of the feelings of those around you.
When working on emotional intelligence, students discover that they can have greater control of their own emotions, while learning how to deal with them in a healthy and more mature way.
Self-knowledge and interpersonal skills are also on the list of skills that contribute to students’ mental health.
Now that you know that discussing mental health in education is increasingly imperative, start raising awareness among your students and teachers, making your educational institution a safe space to address the topic.
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