Building Better Relationships Makes Students Happier, Better Prepares Them for School Success

Building Better Relationships Makes Students Happier, Better Prepares Them for School Success

Building Better Relationships Makes Students Happier, Better Prepares Them for School Success

The latest behavioral assessments reveal that students in our schools today are facing stress and anxiety — no surprise there. In the U.S., there are currently about 33 million high school students and 4.3 million college students. These statistics paint an incredibly bleak picture of the overall mental health of today’s youth. More and more students are seeking help with mental health issues. The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that of the 310,700 students who sought help for mental health in school, that 40 percent of those students had experienced mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and/or eating disorders. Unfortunately, any study of this magnitude would leave you with an unsettling feeling, especially if you know this data to be accurate.

But good news is that there are actions that can be taken to help support and increase the mental health of our nation’s youth and prepare them for the future. Here are some guidelines for schools that want to offer youth an opportunity to meet these expectations and maximize their academic opportunities.

To start with, administrators and teachers must learn how to identify when a student might be struggling. Mental health interventions are too complex for teachers and administrators to address in one meeting or lesson. A therapeutic school program might be appropriate to start with. A counselor at your school might be in the best position to help you identify trends in the school environment that could lead to these disorders. However, no two cases are ever the same, so schools should use a multi-level approach.

Student Health Resources Can Provide Support and Discourage Self-Harm

A student should have at least one set of experienced peers to confide in for academic, academic, and emotional support. Schools should be aware of any students who may be struggling to make a grade. Some schools might have a program in place to provide support for their struggling students. Additionally, school facilities or activities could provide student support services that could prevent students from engaging in self-harm.

Students can be trained in coping skills through on-site or off-site therapy as a part of a broader approach. After all, students can learn to recognize an apathetic attitude and have an approach to problem solving. Learning to recognize attachment problems and gain control over a self-defeating attitude is another important skill to develop. There are also educational resources for students. Students can receive packets of information they can take with them to school in the event of an emergency to help keep the school environment calm. After all, people need to learn to feel safe at school to perform well.

Mental health supports do more than help students learn to cope, they can enhance academic outcomes. In a 2005 paper published in the journal Research in Educational Psychology, Gary Buchar and his colleagues compiled the data that showed students whose schools had a child mental health program excelled in all academic areas. They found that students in healthy school environments do significantly better than their peers in unhealthy schools. A 2014 National Survey of Educational Progress (NSEP) in 8th-12th grade mathematics results also found that students in well-resourced schools had the highest scores in standardized tests.

All of these results indicate that offering students the mental health support they need to succeed in school leads to happier, smarter students who are more capable of reaching their full potential as learners and citizens. Schools should be able to address any problem that a student might face in one single session. Counselors and education specialists could set up meetings in which they could answer any questions that need to be answered.

As with any discipline, schools need to do their due diligence to ensure that the mental health of their students is protected and they are not disproportionately targeted by those who are struggling. For example, school administrators could screen students for depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, then schedule follow-up consultations for those students. This approach would help reduce overcrowding of classrooms, improve absenteeism, and decrease the school’s behavioral problems.

If a school needs to build an individualized treatment plan, the attention to detail from administrators will help students and teachers alike. Given that more than 40 percent of students seek mental health services, administrators should be proactive rather than reactive. They should also work with staff members to create a training program that addresses available mental health resources in the building. Finally, educators should develop a plan that directly addresses the needs of children from low-income families. This includes individualized education plans that focus on disabilities, bullying, and other concerns faced by those students. Children from such families often struggle academically as well as with self-esteem, and administrators should be sensitive to this.

Building Better Relationships Makes Students Happier, Better Prepares Them for School Success

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