Mental health matters
What does positive mental health look like?
Why mental health?
What is mental health?
It is also important to note that mental health is not fixed and can change depending on circumstances, as can physical health. There is also a clear distinction between mental health difficulties or problems, like anxiety, depression, self harm or stress and clinically diagnosed mental health disorders or illnesses, like compulsive disorders, bipolar disease and schizophrenia. Just because a mental health problem has not been clinically diagnosed does not mean it does not exist.
Mental health in school
Research has shown that students (and staff) with good mental health:
* arrive at school ready to learn
* cope with many demands
* engage socially
* are more likely to achieve higher academic success
* feel a sense of belonging
What does positive mental health in school look like?
* improved academic performance (as seen in our GCSE results)
* increased enrolment and attendance
* higher retention rates (as evidenced in our largest Year 12 cohort to date)
* positive culture and word of mouth in the community
* improved positivity and productivity
* students who can respond to challenges and exploit opportunities
* better relationships within and between staff and students
* students and staff who make valuable contributions to society
Positive -v- poor mental health
Those with positive mental health tend to:
* bounce back from setbacks and disappointments
* have strong connections
* display positive attributes, like optimism, confidence, positive self belief and identity
Whereas those with poor mental health:
* may find a school environment demanding
* may struggle to engage in school work
* can't concentrate on tasks
* can't tolerate uncertainty or demands
* can't engage socially
* can't cope with daily demands
The three areas of mental health
I will speak more about resilience in future smores as I feel it is a crucial life skill that is disappearing rapidly in humankind. Resilience is our ability to cope with challenging situations and experiences. Our resiliency levels are determined by our personal skills, our emotional state and our social connections.
Protective factors help to cushion us from poor mental health and once in place, they can lower our risk of experiencing difficulties or disorders. They include the creation of caring, supportive relationships and environments. Oprah Winfrey and John Lennon both suffered traumas growing up but are both proof that having just one caring adult to love and support you can help you to deal with and overcome trauma. As teachers, sometimes we are the only people who can be that one adult for some of our young people. Protective factors also stem from having strong competencies, or positive self belief about our competencies, and from having a sense of belonging in our communities (Do all your students feel they belong in your class? Is your form group/classroom a safe, caring community for students?).
Small steps you can take
To begin, here are some little (effortless) steps you can take to contribute to the positive mental health of those who you encounter on a daily basis.
* Give a compliment to someone
* Send some positive feedback home
* Share your feelings (positive and negative) with staff. Talk.
* Care for yourself more (how much time do you dedicate to you and your well being?)
To learn a little bit more about mental health visit the following websites and direct your students, family and friends towards them.