Promoting well-being in school
- 20 April 2022
Mental health is beyond how we feel think and act. It is a state of well-being where people can meet their learning potential, cope with normal stresses, and are connected to community and their friends. For most people, mental health issues emerge when they are young- half of all mental disorders emerge by the time people are 14 years old and three-quarters by 25 years old -the same period when most people are in education (Adolescent mental health, World Health Organization, 2021). Reports show that nearly 60% of school students take stress when studying and over 60% of girls and 40% of boys reported to feeling anxious about their exams at school, even when they are well prepared.
Pupils’ accomplishments in and outside school depend upon their holistic well-being which has many aspects. Improving students’ mental health in schools requires a whole-school approach, involving students, teachers, parents, school leadership, and curriculum.
Well-being is the experience of health and happiness. It includes mental and physical health, physical and emotional safety, a touch of belonging, sense of purpose, achievement, and success. It is a broad concept and covers a range of psychological and physical abilities.
Five major types of well-being are said to be:
Overall, it depends on all these types of functioning to an extent. (Psychology Today, January 2019).
Hargreaves & Shirley (2018), in their famous work ‘Well-being and Success. Opposites that need to attract’ mentioned that “Having meaning and purpose is integral to people’s sense of well-being. It is far more than happiness, and accomplishments go far beyond test success.”
Well-being is of paramount importance at educational institutions. The reason being that they have an indispensable role to play in supporting learners to make vigorous lifestyle choices and recognize the effects of their choices on their physical and mental health and well-being. Childhood and teenage is a crucial time in the development of long-term attitudes towards personal well-being and lifestyle choices. Schools inculcate the social and emotional abilities, provide knowledge, and teach behaviors that students learn in the school. It helps them in building resilience and set the design for how they will manage their mental and emotional development throughout their lives.
Research shows that there is a significant relationship between well-being and academic achievement and vice versa, i.e., well-being is an important criterion for achievement and achievement is indispensable for well-being. Physical activity is associated with improved learning and the ability to concentrate. Engaged, supportive and strong relationships provide learners with the emotional resources to step out of their ‘comfort zone’ and explore new concepts and rationales, which is essential to their academic achievement. Positive emotions are associated with the development of flexibility and adaptability, openness to other cultures and beliefs, self-efficacy and tolerance of ambiguity.
Schools can offer students with reliable information and deepen their understanding of the choices they has have to make in their future. They can skill up the students with reflective and thinking skills and prepare them to face the challenges with resilience like peer pressure, social media, and family expectations, and cultural values, etc.
Keeping these facts under consideration, schools should step forward in, promoting mental health and well-being as a core role in the education system (Curriculum, culture, and environment). It helps students flourish in their education journey, build resilience against adversity, develop protective factors from mental ill-health and provide them with skills and confidence to self-seek help for early intervention. The key feature towards toward the goal of mental health and well-being in school campuses is “Whole of school approaches” and “resilience-building for students”. A whole-school approach involves everyone (senior leadership team, student counsellors, teachers, staff, and parents) to embed a safe and inclusive learning culture and environment.
1) providing social and emotional skills programs
2) providing timely support for those with additional needs
3) involving students and families in decision-making.
The student counsellors and inclusion teams in the school under the supervision of the senior leadership team should work towards developing resilience among the students for a sustainable mental well-being leading to an excellent student life experience.
Student Counsellor – MYP & CBSE (Grade, 6, 7 & 8)
Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Champion