How Educators Can Support Students’ Mental Health by Amanda Winstead


How Educators Can Support Students’ Mental Health by Amanda Winstead

Though it has rarely gotten the same attention or appreciation as physical health, mental health plays a profound role in our lives. Poor mental health can lead to several substantial health concerns and can bleed into every aspect of life. However, good mental health can enable people to take on bigger and more complex tasks and shine while doing so. Here is how you can support it.


  • Having conversations about mental health are never easy ones, but they are important to have. This is especially true for young people. Helping young people to understand and manage their mental health can lead them to be more capable and resilient adults who can take the time and space to adequately address their mental health when they need to.
  • As an educator, there is a lot you can do to help support this process. Mental health education and awareness can be built into lessons and you can create a safe space for students to explore their mental status. Likewise, you have the power to help them through difficult situations and give them the tools they need to successfully manage mental health.

Know the Signs

  • When it comes to student mental health, perhaps the most important thing an educator can be is another person to watch for signs of mental health issues that can be addressed at an early age. Teachers are in a unique position to get to know their students and recognize when something is starting to change for the negative. In conjunction with parents, educators can help students work through what they are struggling with and build a realistic method for coping.
  • One of the most important aspects of successfully doing this is recognizing the signs of mental health concerns in students. Identifying mental health concerns in children can be more difficult than in adults, but there are signs to watch out for, such as extreme swings in mood or behavior in the classroom. Additionally, educators may notice difficulty concentrating, changes in academic performance, or a sudden increase in absences.
  • Educators may also notice swings in a student’s physical well-being as well. For instance, students may be more tired or have a change in eating habits or a significant weight loss. Some students may also complain about stomach pains which can be a sign of increased stress or anxiety.

Develop Personal Awareness

  • Teachers can play an outsized role in helping students to develop strong mental health awareness. They can help students by providing them with tools in the toolbox for getting through difficult times such as working through an anxious attachment. Even if students don’t need these mental health check-ins and coping strategies now, chances are that at some point they will reach back and be thankful for the lessons in the future.
  • The first thing educators can do is normalize mental health check-ins. Encourage students to talk about their feelings and teach them the words they may need to help capture how their feelings are impacting them. Numerous activities can reinforce this idea of a mental health check-in, such as having students keep a journal about their day, teaching them to rate their mood, helping them find one positive thing to talk about every day, and acknowledging emotions with empathy. Leading by example can be a great way to begin to set some of these practices in motion.
  • As students learn to become more aware of their mental health, educators can also start helping them to manage their emotions and gain more control over their mental health. For instance, many teachers have worked to bring greater levels of mindfulness to the classroom. This can mean a period every day where students practice mindfulness by sitting in silence, breathing, and thinking about how they feel.

Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Educators are also in a unique position to help students develop other types of healthy habits that will impact their mental health over the long term. These can be numerous things from encouraging them to build lasting and deep relationships with their peers to developing greater self-confidence to encouraging a healthier lifestyle. All of these things can add up over time to lead to big, positive changes that can help with a more resilient mental status.
  • One example is encouraging students to become involved in sports and other activities that promote physical movement. There are hundreds of studies that point to the mental health benefits of sports activities. Sports are linked to better sleep, a release of positive endorphins, improved memory, increased social connection, and the development of leadership skills. Beyond that, sports can also help students learn to address and cope with losing or not constructively performing their best.
  • Teachers can also give critical lessons on how diet and food choices can make an impact on mental health. For instance, students can learn about how junk foods may slow their bodies and brains down while healthy foods can have more positive impacts. Early lessons in food health can prove valuable for students as they begin to make their own food choices later down the road.
  • Mental health is a major factor in our lives. Supporting students’ mental health and giving them the tools to manage their mental health are powerful things that educators can do to benefit the lives of their students. Educators can do a great deal to help in this arena.

Amanda Winstead

  • Amanda is a freelance writer out of Portland focusing on many topics including educational technology. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
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