Mental health is often not given as much importance as physical health, but modern life problems have underlined the need for effective strategies for monitoring student mental health.
Did you know that 13 percent of youth under 18 years are suffering from mental health issues? According to an Indian Council of Medical Research Survey in 2021, 12-13 percent of students in India are suffering from one or another kind of emotional, psychological, or behavioural health conditions. Not only this, 10-24 years olds account for 14% of all suicides—surpassing 6,500 deaths each year.
This data suggests the need for mental health monitoring, especially for students. Let’s discuss some methods to monitor and support students’ mental health.
Need For Monitoring Student Mental Health
Since students spend a considerable amount of time in school, monitoring students’ mental health at school is crucial. According to a survey done by the National Council of Educational Research and Training in 2022, it was observed that secondary school students face more mental health problems compared to primary school students.
The secondary stage is often marked by an identity crisis, peer pressure, fear of board examinations, and so on. The survey findings indicate that anxiousness was the most common emotion experienced by students after happiness. Therefore, giving special attention to mental health in schools becomes important.
Best Practices for Monitoring Student Mental Health in Schools
Let’s discuss some school-based mental health monitoring approaches.
1.Teacher as Counselor
As per the survey recommendation of NCERT, teachers should act as first-level counsellor. They should be professionally trained to handle students’ concerns, whether personal, social, or related to academic life.
2. Emotional Intelligence as Part of Curriculum
“Where we have strong emotions, we’re liable to fool ourselves.” — Carl Sagan
This quote from Carl Sagan perfectly underscores the need for mental health and emotional intelligence as part of the curriculum. Learning how to deal with our emotions and strategies to calm your mind in difficult situations is a must.
Teenage students specially have a tribal mentality hence letting them share mental health-related experiences and solutions in the classroom can motivate others to deal with their challenges.
3. Monitoring During Learning
Students’ mental health can be monitored during learning by using the following methods:
1- Attendance: Pay attention to the student’s attendance and inquire about reasons for prolonged absence.
2- Activeness in class: Analyze the student’s behavior in class, their attentiveness, and awareness towards the subject material.
3- Submissions of Homework and Assignments: Observe whether the student submits their homework timely and the quality of answers and efforts in assignments.
4- Academic Performance: Comparing the academic performance of the child with their previous performance and understanding the reasons for deterred performance can also indicate underlying problems.
4. Interactions and Co-Curricular Activities
Monitoring students’ interactions and their participation in co-curricular or recreational activities can give a clear idea of mental health. Here are some methods of analyzing that:
1- Peer-to-Peer Interaction: Observe how the student behaves with their classmates and see if it is healthy or not.
2- Student-teacher Interaction: Students should interact with teachers in a cordial and friendly way. Anomaly to this behavior can indicate underlying conditions.
3- Participation in co-curricular activities: If a student doesn’t participate or shows a lack of enthusiasm in co-curricular or recreational activities, the teacher should inquire about the reason, as it can be due to some underlying issue.
5- One-on-One Check-Ins
Students should be asked about their challenges one-on-one to gain better insights and understanding. Open communication between teachers and children opens the way for better counseling and solutions.
6- Data, Technology, and Professional Help
To take student health monitoring to the next level, teachers can leverage data collection through questionnaires, surveys, or standardized tests. This data can help them analyze the students’ mental health.
Nowadays, technology can also be used to monitor the students’ health. From monitoring to suggesting solutions and providing support, these apps can be used in multiple ways.
The most important aspect is professional help. Schools should not hesitate to seek professional help when it comes to mental health. Visits of psychologists, mental health professionals, and counsellors should be arranged in order to monitor the students’ mental health more effectively.
Monitoring Students’ Mental Health at Home
Next to school, home also plays an important role in shaping the students’ mental environment. It is necessary for parents to monitor their child’s mental health at home. The following tools can be used by parents to assess their child’s mental health.
1- Social Media Addiction
Social media and mental health are two sides of the same coin, both equally affecting each other. Excessive social media use can induce mental health problems due to a cheap dopamine surge.
Social media is making a trigger-happy generation. Unlike social media, real life doesn’t give instant gratification. Such people find life challenging hence parents should ensure their children have a healthy screen time.
2- Social Life and Interaction
Parents should observe the social life of their child and notice how they interact with other family members. They should observe how their child spends their free time, whether they prefer being alone or need constant company. Spending too much time alone or needing constant company are both not good from a mental health perspective. Parents should be aware of their child’s behaviour with others, as too much aggressiveness or inactiveness can indicate mental health problems.
“Self-care is how you take your power back.” — Lalah Delia
No one knows us better than ourselves; hence, as a student, it is important to be mindful of your mental health. Self-monitoring can be done by looking at sleep patterns, eating habits, physical activity, patterns, and quality of thoughts.
Self-monitoring is by far the best way to monitor mental health. Students should reflect on their mental health and discuss their problems with teachers, parents, or someone they trust. This way, they can ensure timely intervention and care.
Mental health is the most important aspect of a human’s life. Troubled mental health can impact us hugely. As a student, it is important to take care of mental health as this stage is the preparation stage for life.
Students are the future of this planet, and no one wants a future where anxiety and depression prevail; hence, it is necessary to administer effective strategies for monitoring student mental health. This way, we not only ensure a healthy and happy school life but also a thriving future.