Tips for making mental health an integral part of your classroom

If the adage "a healthy mind in a healthy body" resonates in our heads, its application remains a challenge and even more so when it comes to children. How can we make them aware of their emotions from a very young age in order to manage them in the most benevolent way possible?

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By Fatimazzahra Benchekri

If the adage "a healthy mind in a healthy body" resonates in our heads, its application remains a challenge and even more so when it comes to children. How can we make them aware of their emotions from a very young age in order to manage them in the most benevolent way possible?

According to the Public Health Agency of CanadaMental health is the ability of each of us to feel, think and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and meet the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interaction and personal dignity.

School is the place where children spend most of their time, so it is logical and understandable that they should receive some basic knowledge and perhaps some follow-up regarding the broad area of mental health.

Success factors

Always according to the Public Health Agency of CanadaThe most effective school-based mental health promotion programs must be comprehensive and have the following benefits:

- An increase in well-being

- Improved regulation of emotions

- Improved coping and problem solving skills

- Increased commitment, performance and attendance

- Development of empathy and respect for diversity

- Decreased bullying and aggression

Practical advice

On a more practical note, here are some tips for making mental health an integral part of your classroom or school.

  1. Allow and encourage students to be involved in decision making and in class activities or school projects.
  2. Create an atmosphere of trust, tolerance and empathy. Don't hesitate to discuss the meaning of these concepts with your students, you will be amazed at how quickly they will grasp them and apply them.
  3. Showcase students' accomplishments. Why not have a display wall at the entrance to the classroom or inside the classroom?
  4. Explain cultural diversity to students. This can be done through the film A school without borders by Nadine Valcin. This film traces the efforts of young immigrants to integrate into their school. After watching the film, you can ask them questions such as: What do you think are the challenges faced by these students? How would you have reacted in their place? What advice would you like to give to these children to facilitate their integration? And so on.
  5. Implement instructional differentiation strategies. On this subject, consult the file produced by the École branchée team in 2021.
  6. Encourage students' autonomy by listening to them and valuing their points of view.
  7. Ensure that students and all staff members fulfill their responsibilities and model respectful behavior.
  8. Form (if possible) a counselling committee for students and educational staff.

For further : Get the Winter 2021 issue of École branchée magazine, Teach the development of social and emotional skills.

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About the Author

Fatimazzahra Benchekri
Fatimazzahra is a master's student in educational technology at Laval University. Passionate about reading and writing, she has decided to devote her time to writing in a field in which she feels she is growing, education. With a background in journalism and political science, Fatimazzahra sees education as an ever-changing field where anyone is welcome to share their ideas and motivations.

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