The Importance of School Mental Health Training

The demands of teaching can be overwhelming. Because teachers face stress and burnout, many teachers struggle with how to support students in mental health. School leaders must work to support and care for teacher mental health through intentional and regular professional development on the topic. 

One way to demonstrate care for teachers is to infuse mental health content into the overall school professional development plan.  This blog will break the training ideas into two, distinct parts: (1) training for teachers to respond to students and (2) training for teachers to respond to their own needs.

1.       Training for Teachers to Respond to Students

Recognize the Signs of Mental Health Issues in Students.
Mental health issues are common among students, and teachers are often the first to notice the signs. However, many teachers are not fully equipped in best ways to respond and support their students. Mental health training can help teachers identify the warning signs in students and provide them with the support they need. 

Improve Classroom Management.
Mental health training can also improve classroom management. By learning how to recognize and address mental health issues, teachers can better understand and respond to student behavior. These steps enable teachers to proactively prevent disruptive behavior and improve classroom dynamics.  The Stride PD Center is currently working on 2 courses that focus on trauma-informed instruction, so watch our course catalog for practical tips that can help.       

Support Special Needs Students.
Mental health training can help teachers understand the unique challenges that special needs students sometimes face.  Again, the desire outcome of the training is to equip teachers with the necessary tools to assist students effectively. By offering assistance to students with non-academic issues, teachers are creating a strong foundation that also improves academic outcomes for special needs students as they also receive content accommodations.  

Create a Safe and Supportive Classroom Environment
Mental health training can help teachers create a safe and supportive classroom environment for their students. By understanding the importance of mental health and how to address mental health issues, teachers can create a space where students feel comfortable and supported. This classroom culture motivates students to want to come to class and learn because they know the teacher cares about them.     

2.       Training for Teachers to Respond to their Own Needs

Address Teacher Burnout.
Teaching can be a demanding and stressful job, and many teachers experience burnout at some point in their careers. Mental health training can help teachers recognize the indicators of burnout and provide them with strategies to cope.  Self-care is critical for teachers as they cannot give to students when they are empty themselves. Currently, the Stride PD Center has a short, 30 minute course that may be of value – Having a Full Cup:  Self-Care and Teaching.  The presenter shares their personal story, data, and some resources for continued study.

Promote Teacher Well-Being.
Knowing that teachers spend so much time focusing on the well-being and needs of others, mental health content in professional development sets a very important tone – they need to focus on themselves as well. Far too often, schools wait to address teacher well-being when a tragedy strikes; however, effective school leaders focus on teacher mental health all throughout the school year. By learning how to manage stress and cope with the demands of the job, teachers remain whole which leads to effective relationships and instruction within in the classroom.    

Address the Stigma of Mental Health.
Mental health issues are often stigmatized, and this can prevent students and teachers from seeking the help they need. Mental health training breaks down the stigma by promoting a culture of openness and acceptance. This simple step can encourage students and teachers to seek help when they need it and reduce the negative impact of mental health issues.  

Mental health training at schools is essential for promoting student and teacher well-being, creating a safe and supportive classroom environment, and breaking down the stigma of mental health. By investing in mental health training, schools can help teachers and students thrive and ensure that everyone has access to the resources they need to support their mental health.

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