Educators are often the first to notice mental health problems in children and young adults. Here are some ways you can help your students and their families.
What Educators Should Know
You should know:
- The warning signs for mental health problems.
- How to promote mental health and substance use prevention in schools and on campuses.
- Whom to turn to, such as the principal, school nurse, school psychiatrist or psychologist, or school social worker, if you have questions or concerns about a student's behavior.
- How to access crisis support and other mental health services.
What Educators Should Look for in Student Behavior
Consult with a school counselor, nurse, or administrator and the student's parents if you observe one or more of the following behaviors:
- Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
- Seriously trying to harm oneself, or making plans to do so
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing
- Involvement in many fights or desire to badly hurt others
- Severe out-of-control behavior that can hurt oneself or others
- Not eating, throwing up, or using laxatives to make oneself lose weight
- Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
- Extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still that puts the student in physical danger or causes problems in the classroom
- Repeated use of drugs or alcohol
- Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Drastic changes in the student's behavior or personality
What Educators Can Do in Classrooms and Schools
You can support the mental health of all students in your classroom and school, not just individual students who may exhibit behavioral issues. Consider the following actions:
- Learn more about mental health by taking a mental health awareness training
- Promote social and emotional competency and build resilience
- Help ensure a positive, safe school environment
- Teach and reinforce positive behaviors and decision-making
- Encourage helping others
- Encourage good physical health
- Help ensure access to school-based mental health supports
Developing Effective School Mental Health Programs
Efforts to care for the emotional well-being of children and youth can extend beyond the classroom and into the entire school. School-based mental health programs can focus on promoting mental wellness, preventing mental health problems, and providing treatment.
- Promote the healthy social and emotional development of all children and youth
- Recognize when young people are at risk for, or are experiencing, mental health problems
- Identify how to intervene early and appropriately when there are problems
Learn More about Ways to Support Your Students and Their Families
- Learn evidence-based strategies for supporting student mental health in the classroom
- Work with your state, district, and school to learn about school mental health and develop a school mental health program
- Access resources for educators, administrators, and school mental health professionals
- Coping tips for traumatic events and disasters
- If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.
- To learn how to get support for mental health, drug, and alcohol issues, visit FindSupport.gov.
- To locate treatment facilities or providers, visit FindTreatment.gov or call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).
- School and Campus Health
- Talk. They Hear You. School and Educator Resources
- Schools This Year… Supporting Student and Staff Mental Health: Tips for Educators and Mental Health Professionals
- Psychological First Aid (PFA) for students and teachers: Listen, protect, connect – model and teach
- Continuing Education for Professionals Concerned with Trauma