Best Practice

Promoting student mental health: Everyday strategies for classroom teachers

Is there anything that teachers can do in their classrooms and during their lessons to help students with their mental health? Jean Gross looks at elements of social and emotional learning that can be easily transferred to the classroom

There is not a school in the land that isn’t currently concerned about students’ mental health. Not surprising, given that the latest NHS figures show that one in four 17 to 19-year-olds and almost one in five 7 to 16-year-olds have “a probable mental disorder” (Newlove-Delgado et al, 2022).

This isn’t trivial malaise. It reflects young people’s answers to questions focusing on things like “losing sleep over worry”, whether they feel they play “a useful part in things”, or if they think of themselves “as a worthless person”.

It is clearly not the job of teachers to provide treatment for mental health difficulties. A systematic review of the evidence by the Early Intervention Foundation (Clarke et al, 2021) found no evidence that interventions delivered by school staff are effective in addressing the needs of students with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.

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