Mental health is an extremely important issue that touches either us or someone we know. Mental health affects how we think as well as our actions. Furthermore, many people with serious mental illness are challenged twice as much. For instance, they have to face the symptoms that result from the illness; and on the other hand, they are faced with the labels that result from misconceptions about mental health. As educators, we need a better understanding the impact of stigma on students with mental illness. In many incidences, we think of it as an issue that mainly affects adults but it is something that impact a person at any age from childhood through adulthood.
I like how school boards are making more of an effort to put mental health on the forefront. When that is the case, teachers are more willing to promote healthy social and emotional development, prevent and respond and not just identify and refer those with severe problems. When schools take it upon themselves to promote healthy social beings, teachers have more appreciation and awareness of a diverse student body. They are also more likely to embrace the importance of cultural competence.
As a teacher, I did encounter a student who had some mental health issues. I took it upon myself to better understand the student. From that point on I paid closer attention to potential triggers and the student’s overall social well-being each day. After that I was able to identify possible early warning signs and concerns when things weren’t consistent. That allowed me to respond early before things got worse. Also, I was able to connect with the Child and Youth Worker to discuss the students issues and it increased my awareness of the students’ mental health.