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World Health Day: Mental Health Awareness in School

What is World Health Day?

World Health Day is a global awareness day, organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), that we celebrate each year on 7th April. It marks the founding of WHO and is a fantastic opportunity to draw worldwide attention to a specific subject, chosen each year.

The theme of this year’s World Health Day campaign is “depression – let’s talk”. The aim is to mobilise action on something that affects people of all ages, all over the world.

As well as highlighting World Health Day in our school planners, we are dedicating this week’s blog post to mental health awareness in the school environment.

Early recognition

Recognition of mental illness and subsequent early diagnosis can greatly improve the lives of children and teens in school.

Research suggests that teens with mental health problems who do get appropriate treatment have increased scholastic test scores.

Effective mental health interventions and a positive school climate can contribute to improved student achievement.

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Spotting the warning signs

Recognising the warning signs in students means that we are better equipped to provide appropriate help within school or outside of school if necessary.

As a teacher, you see your students every day and may be among the first to notice symptoms. Things to look out for include:

  • Increased lateness or absence
  • Angry or aggressive behaviour
  • Poor concentration
  • Student seems withdrawn, silent, lacks friends — especially if this is a change in behavior
  • Student appears overly anxious or worried, even fearful

What happens next

If you do spot one or more of the above signs in a particular student, ask yourself:

1) How frequently is this happening?

Warning signs will usually persist over a couple of weeks, and will not go away.

2) How extreme is the change in behaviour?

If a warning sign does show up, even if infrequent, it’s important to determine whether there is a significant change in behavioural pattern.

If you feel that there is an issue, reach out to the student in question and connect them to the school mental health staff.

For more advice on recognising mental health issues, the NHS website is a good starting point.