15th May 2023
How to spot changes in students’ mental health today
From 15th May until 21st May, it is Mental Health Awareness Week and the importance of mental well-being is highlighted throughout the UK. However, it is important that we talk about these issues all year round and how to cope with them.
Having good mental health and well-being is essential for everyone, but it’s so important for school students. It contributes to them learning effectively and coping with day-to-day challenges, however, school can be difficult for a number of reasons for many students so it’s important that we know how to notice changes in our student’s mental health. Here are some notable changes that can be spotted in a students morale:
Change in personality
If your student starts acting like a completely different person, it may suggest poor mental health. Lack of interest, nervousness and mood swings are common signs of this. Anything uncharacteristic of the individual like being anxious, moody or angry could mean there has been a change in their mental well-being.
Change in behaviour
If students that are usually punctual and hand in work to a good standard start to arrive late and give in work below expectation, they could be struggling mentally. A lack of effort could show their behaviour has changed. If they suddenly struggle to concentrate, find it difficult to do tasks they could once do and keep forgetting information that they should be retaining, it is likely that they are suffering from mental health issues.
If you notice your student is socially isolating or withdrawing themselves from their friendship groups, this could be a change in mental health. If they appear disconnected in classes and social time or they’re spending lots of time alone, this could be a mental health issue.
If certain students are wearing more clothes or blatantly covering their skin to hide potential scars, cuts, bruises or burns due to self-harm. If the students had a significant change in weight or even their appetite this could be a change in mental health. Other signs are if the student appears always tired or distressed.
Understanding the reasons
Why is the student feeling this way?
Try to understand why the students are feeling this way or acting the way they are, what are the reasons for their emotions and actions and if can you help them. Asking them can be a way forward, but if they don’t want to speak about their issues, don’t force them. No matter what, offer your support.
How can I help the student feel better?
Allow the student time and space if necessary. Maybe allow them to sit with a friend or ask if there’s someone they’d prefer to be paired with. Offer them counselling or extra support to help them relieve stress and get back to feeling like themselves again.
What if they continue to feel down?
Inform a higher and more educated colleague in emotional well-being and mental health support to get them the help they need. Try to identify if the issues are because of home life or because of a relative and then notify a member of family if possible.
These changes can be difficult to deal with and even harder to cope with so as a teacher remember to continue to offer support and help to your students as long as they need it.
Fancy upskilling in mental health for educators? When you work with us, you get free access to Creative Educations CPD portal, which includes topics such as:
10 Ideas to make School Feel Safe for Children Struggling to Attend
Mental Health: Practical Strategies for Supporting a Colleague Who is Struggling
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