School students with mental health concerns often experience difficulty at school for a variety of reasons and addressing these concerns is very essential as it has been found that 1 in 5 children and youth have some kind of psychological issues that need immediate attention.
Many studies have found that these mental illnesses affect many of our kids aged 6-17 at least one-half and almost 80% of them do not receive appropriate treatment that they require. To manage these concerns and support the students, it is very important first understand the causes behind it. So let’s find out:
Social disadvantage or poverty:
Students coming from an impoverished background have always been at the risk of developing mental health concerns. They may not have sufficient sources to access basic amenities like food, shelter, education etc
Stigmas around mental illness causes many people to refrain from seeking help. Due to fear of judgement, shame or guilt prevent a lot of students from opening up and sharing their needs and issues with others. They often shut themselves and dismiss their experiences.
Lack of awareness about the mental health needs
It has been seen that poor awareness regarding the psychological concerns of school students is one of the major reasons behind students not being able to access the support in a timely manner. Misinformation about the mental health needs and delay in the diagnosis can significantly hamper the child’s physio-psychological health
Guardians with mental health needs
Children with parents and guardians who themselves are having mental health problems can have higher possibility to develop emotional-behavioural issues early in their lives. Such children become victims of their parents’ frustration arising out of Children who are already at risk may think there is no hope for seeking support or start to feel lonely.
Unrealistic expectations from children
Unrealistic expectations from parents and teachers for children pertaining to their academic or non-academic endeavors puts a burden on these children where they become more prone to irritability, chronic stress, poor academic
Increased screen-time: Multiple research studies have proven the positive relationship between increased screen time and the risk of developing academic-behavioral problems like mood disorders, low self esteem, significant drop in academic performance and more.
I always believe that to manage and support the children is certainly not a cake-walk and will definitely need the contribution of more than one party. So we need to take a multidisciplinary approach. Let’s have a look at the treatment options to manage and better handle our students.
Psycho-education for all stakeholders: Psycho-educating all the stakeholders about the existing mental health needs of the children is very essential as it creates an awareness among the parents and teachers so that they are in a better position to understand these concerns and support their kids on time.
Guidance classes for students: Arranging life skills classes for all the students help students build confidence in both communication and cooperative and collaborative skills and provide them with tools important for development. These classes encourage them to find new ways of thinking and problem-solving.
Comprehensive assessments for diagnosis purposes: Comprehensive psychological and psychoeducational assessments provide better understanding of students’ strengths and weaknesses, identify potential problems with cognitions, academics, behaviours and emotional reactivity and make recommendations for treatment or remediation.
Counseling cell and psychotherapy: providing school based counseling can help the students better understand their emotional health and academic concerns. Therapy sessions can help them to open about their bottled up issues and explore their emotions and feelings, actions and reactions. Counselling makes them more aware about their choices and goals. They make better choices in school as well as get mentally prepared for the future life.
Crisis intervention training program: Training the school personnel with skills required to manage any crisis situation within school is very important in present times to deal with situations like disasters, pandemics etc. A school well-equipped with a proper crisis response team can coordinate the efforts of school personnel and parents with mental health and medical professionals to address the emotional responses that evolve from traumatic and critical situations.
All in all it is extremely important to be aware as well as to spread awareness about the causes that affect children’s mental health in school, try to cut the causes from the root and lastly to take the treatment options available without any hesitation or stigma. If the mental health concerns are identified and treated at the school age for children which is a moulding age for them, we are making their future full of hope and possibilities as healthy individuals.