Supporting Children’s Mental
Health: Tips for Parents and Educators
Create a sense of
belonging. Feeling connected and welcomed is
essential to children’s positive adjustment, self-identification, and sense of
trust in others and themselves. Building strong, positive relationships among
students, school staff, and parents is important to promoting mental wellness.
Promote resilience. Adversity is a natural part of
life and being resilient is important to overcoming challenges and good mental
health. Connectedness, competency, helping others, and successfully facing difficult
situations can foster resilience.
Develop competencies. Children need to know that
they can overcome
challenges and accomplish goals through
their actions. Achieving
academic success and developing individual talents and interests helps children
feel competent and more able to deal with stress positively. Social competency
is also important. Having friends and staying connected to friends and loved
ones can enhance mental wellness.
Ensure a positive, safe school environment. Feeling safe is critical to
students’ learning and mental health. Promote positive behaviors such as respect, responsibility, and kindness. Prevent
negative behaviors such as bullying and harassment. Provide easily
understood rules of conduct and fair discipline practices and ensure an adult
presence in common areas, such as hallways, cafeterias, locker rooms, and
playgrounds. Teach children to work together to stand up to a bully, encourage
them to reach out to lonely or excluded peers, celebrate acts of kindness, and
reinforce the availability of adult support.
and reinforce positive behaviors and decision making. Provide
consistent expectations and support. Teaching children social skills, problem
solving, and conflict resolution supports good mental health. “Catch” them
being successful. Positive feedback validates and reinforces behaviors or
accomplishments that are valued by others.
Encourage helping others. Children need to know that they can make a difference. Pro-social
behaviors build self-esteem, foster connectedness, reinforce personal
responsibility, and present opportunities for positive recognition. Helping
others and getting involved in reinforces being part of the community.
physical health. Good physical health supports
good mental health. Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and adequate sleep
protect kids against the stress of tough situations. Regular exercise also
decreases negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression.
Educate staff, parents
and students on symptoms of and help for mental health problems. Information helps break down the
stigma surrounding mental health and enables adults and students recognize when
to seek help. School mental health professionals can provide useful information
on symptoms of problems like depression or suicide risk. These can include a
change in habits, withdrawal, decreased social and academic functioning,
erratic or changed behavior, and increased physical complaints.
to school-based mental health supports. School psychologists,
counselors, and social workers can provide a continuum of mental health
services for students ranging from universal mental wellness promotion and
behavior supports to staff and parent training, identification and assessment,
early interventions, individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, and
referral for community services.
continuum of mental health services. School mental health services are part of a continuum of mental health
care for children and youth. Build relationships with community mental health
resources. Be able to provide names and numbers to parents.
Establish a crisis response team. Being
prepared to respond to a crisis is important to safeguarding students’ physical
and mental well-being. School crisis teams should include relevant
administrators, security personnel and mental health professionals who
collaborate with community resources. In addition to safety, the team provides
mental health prevention, intervention, and postvention services.