Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Charlotte Andrist
on May 8, 2020

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a movement designed to raise awareness about mental health issues. Good mental health is critical for students of all ages to succeed, so it’s imperative that we offer the necessary support and resources to help ensure their well-being. Fostering mental health awareness in children from a young age can help equip them with the tools they need to face life’s challenges as they grow.

While teachers and parents should always try to stay in tune with younger students’ mental health, one of the best ways to manage the mental well-being of children is to provide them with the resources and understanding necessary to be aware of their own mental health. Younger students with mental health challenges may struggle both academically and socially, which hinders their ability to succeed both in and out of the classroom. It’s important for students to build their own mental health awareness so they are able to process their emotions and share their feelings freely with trusted adults and peers.

Here are three ways you can help younger students build self-awareness of their mental health:

  • Improve Students’ SEL Skills
    Fostering social and emotional competencies in young students can have a significant positive impact on their mental well-being as they face new experiences and learn more about themselves. A well-rounded SEL curriculum helps students learn emotion regulation, self-confidence, social awareness, and healthy coping mechanisms. With these skills, children are able to better manage aspects of their mental health and articulate positive or negative changes in their mental well-being.
  • Talk About Your Own Feelings and Emotions Openly
    Mental health stigmas can create a barrier to young students’ understanding of their own mental health. If students feel that their emotions are unusual or unlikely to be accepted by their family and peers, they are less likely to acknowledge these feelings as important factors to their mental health. This can be incredibly detrimental, as healthy social, emotional, and behavioral well-being is essential to early childhood development.
  • Encourage Students to Communicate With Adults and Peers
    While it’s certainly important to show children that experiencing their emotions is safe and welcomed, it’s also critical that they learn how to express these feelings to trusted adults and peers. Learning how to communicate emotions creates a foundation for healthy relationships and conflict resolution. Plus, openly communicating their feelings with others helps children identify what may be positively or negatively affecting their mental health, deepening their self-awareness while also helping parents and teachers stay in tune with students’ overall well-being.

When young students learn to identify and articulate their emotions, they build healthy habits that help them cope and handle mental health challenges as they grow older. These three ideas can help parents and educators guide students and promote deeper mental health awareness from an early age.

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