The brain goes into a dark zone all by itself, and nothing they do seems to help them avoid depression. Though those days may be few and far between, they leave one lonely, lost, drained, and hopeless. It gets worse when no one seems to understand them, and if they have an exam coming, they could beat themselves up for not being in the best mental health for what is ahead.
Nothing in this article will give you all the answers you need for the mental health care of your students, but you may find a few gems to make things more manageable when they feel out of control.
Be a safe zone
Not everyone comes from a happy home or whose life is working as they would want. College and high school are hard enough already because of the many psychological changes, so it helps to be their biggest cheerleader. A warm and positive attitude towards your students could be the change they need to have the best days of their lives. You want to keep yourself in their lives when they reach out and stay interested in their mental health. If one brings up a subject where they will need mentoring, it could help to delve deeper into this topic to understand it better.
Having someone on your side is one of the most illuminating things in one’s life, as you get to learn more than you would without them. The support you give your student could be all the motivation they need to achieve their wildest dreams or even face another day.
Teach them positive thinking
Some people naturally have good thoughts about themselves, so much that they could be considered a little corky. Others struggle to find anything good about themselves, something they could go back to childhood. If you grew up hearing only bad mentions alongside your name, you are likely to have negative thoughts about yourself all the time. A good teacher can change this with thoughtful ideas. You could introduce the student to journaling, asking them to affirm daily. They will find a positive personal attribute each day and, over time, expound on why they think they possess this positivity. Most people would struggle with this initially, but they will learn to see themselves differently over time if they stick with it. Let them know the things you think are unique about them, too, because we cannot see everything about ourselves. Sometimes, it helps to hear others’ opinions of us.
You can get through the darkest times of your life through creating. If a student is gifted in the arts, encourage them to use this time when they are in a mental funk to create. Is it poetry, spoken word, music, or painting that could bring out what they feel best? Encourage them to do this and even write essay samples that they can publish for others going the same thing to read. These creative outbursts may change the way someone feels during the bleakest times of their lives, and the outcome could be life-changing. Also, we get better by keeping the brain engaged.
Encourage them to try something new
Something as simple as taking walks in the park or going for jogs could be a game-changer in mental health care. Introduce your student to this or send them yoga videos to learn meditation to calm the mind. If they can join communities of like-minded people, encourage them too, so they don’t feel alone. Switching things up sometimes lets one leave an old habit that no longer serves them to embrace the new.
It’s alright not to be alright. This lesson will teach you to appreciate the good and bad since it cannot always be flowers and hugs. Some days will be bad, others delightful, and some so bleak that you doubt you will ever be okay. It is okay to let your guard down allow the brain to heal itself when you have done everything you can do to bring the light back into your life. As a teacher, it helps to let your charges know they will be okay even when it seems like the present seems unendingly bleak.
Helen Bradfield did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She is interested in mental health and well-being.