Therapy is a tool that every educator should keep in their back pocket. With a host of benefits, therapy can change the life of a struggling student for a relatively small investment of time and resources. Students today are facing a barrage of anxiety and depression that can impact every aspect of their life. They’re experiencing unprecedented rates of child and adolescent mental health issues, yet only a fraction of students who need it actually receive care.
It can be hard to know which students need care. After all, some anxiety, moodiness (hello, hormones!), social, and school challenges are expected as students mature. As an educator, it’s important to recognize the signs that indicate a student may need to see a therapist.
Here are some signs to look out for when identifying students who may be struggling with their mental health:
- Ongoing feelings of hopelessness or overwhelming sadness
- Frequent angry outbursts
- Harming themselves or other students
- Persistent anxiousness, fear, or worry
- Low self-worth or lack of self-esteem
- A sudden change in behavior or drop in grades/attendance
- Overt focus or obsession about their appearance or weight
- Changes in eating habits or rapid weight loss/gain
- The inability to focus or concentrate
- A loss of interest or pleasure in everyday activities
- Expressing thoughts of death or suicide
- Engaging in compulsive behaviors, like picking or washing throughout the day
- Recurring physical ailments, like headaches or stomach aches
- A big life transition or loss of a loved one
- Erratic behavior or hearing voices that aren’t there
- Alcohol or substance abuse
If you notice these behaviors in your students, consider referring them to therapy. Therapy is a place where students can set down their burdens and work through their hangups. If they’ve been struggling, a therapist can help them develop skills to lighten their emotional load.
In regions where access to therapists are inadequate, consider advocating to your district about partnering with a program like Gaggle Therapy. Gaggle Therapy matches students to therapists for ongoing video sessions with no out-of-pocket costs for families. No student should have to suffer with poor mental health because they aren’t able to access care.
Educators are our first line of defense for many of this nation’s students. In addition to supporting their academic success, uplifting the whole child includes ensuring their mental health and wellness needs are accounted for. If you would like to learn more, be sure to watch our recent Safe and Sound: Strategies to Support Student Mental Health in Your District webinar.