In today’s society, it is becoming increasingly common to hear about mental health, but not in the way we should. In order to promote a healthy environment for students, we need to be more aware of our own well-being and that of others. We want people to know that they are not alone when dealing with mental health issues and there are a lot of resources available to help them. Here are some ways to help promote healthy mental health for all students.
1. Learn about mental health first aid
Mental health first aid is based on the current public education campaign of awareness and early intervention in response to physical and mental trauma. This education is designed for everyone who comes into contact with young people such as parents, teachers, coaches, pediatricians, clergymen, or anyone else that has regular contact with youth. If we know the signs of mental illness, we can provide early support and prevent it from becoming a serious issue. For example, you can show your friends how to help someone during an anxiety attack.
2. Know the signs of mental health
There are many types of disorders, some more common than others. Here is a list of four of the most prevalent mental illnesses.
- ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is believed to affect around 5% of children and young people (around 2 million in the US). It affects their ability to concentrate and stay focused.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is believed to affect around 350 million people worldwide. This disorder causes a person to have low energy, trouble sleeping, loss of interest in things they used to love, or thoughts about suicide.
- Eating Disorders are serious, potentially life-threatening mental illnesses that affect millions of people in North America. Anorexia Nervosa affects around 1-2% of young females aged 15 to 19. Bulimia nervosa affects about 1% of both males and females in the same age range (25).
- Schizophrenia is an illness that causes the individual to lose touch with reality in some way, shape, or form. The severity can vary from person to person and over time.
3. Recruit students as peer counselors on campus
Having people who are open about their own issues on campus is very important to the general student population as well as for those who may be open about their issues. It shows them that they are not alone and helps to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues. This can be achieved by inviting students to voluntarily share their own stories during lunchtime announcements or with posters around campus.
4. Create a mental health event on campus
Creating an event such as an open house with pamphlets and resources is a great way to inform the student population about what they can do if they or someone else suffers from mental illness. This is also a good way to get students talking about mental health issues and to spread information around campus. If you are unsure of what resources are available on campus, another option would be making an appointment with the counseling center (and there will always be someone available) or informing yourself by doing some research.
5. Be an open listener and give your full attention to what they have to say
This is a great way to let students express themselves without the fear of being judged and can have a significant impact on their day. It also lets them open up to you in a safe environment which is why giving your full attention when they are speaking is very important. Many open charter schools have counseling programs that can provide information on mental health issues. You can even open your home to host counseling sessions if needed.
6. Regularly hold open discussions about mental health issues
This will open the conversation for people who might be struggling with mental illness, depression, or suicidal thoughts and open up lines of communication about it on campus.
7. Don’t be afraid to open up yourself
If you are open about your own issues on campus, students will see that they are not alone which is our main goal. This also allows them the space to open up more freely because they know you are open as well which helps relieve their stress.
Mental health is an important issue in schools, and there are many ways to promote students’ mental health. Some of these include recruiting students as peer counselors, creating a mental health event on campus, being an open listener, and regularly holding open discussions about mental health issues. It is also important for individuals to be open about their own mental health in order to create a safe space for others to do the same.