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10 Practical Wellness Suggestions for Supporting Student Mental Health

Updated: Apr 9

Educators and parents alike play a crucial role in supporting the mental health and well-being of students and provide them with the support they need. With the increasing prevalence of mental health issues among students, it's essential that we take proactive steps to promote wellness and provide the necessary support for those who may be struggling. In this article, we will explore 10 practical wellness suggestions for supporting student mental health.


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Understanding Student Mental Health is the first step in creating a supportive learning environment. Mental health issues can manifest in a variety of ways, and it's important to recognize the signs and symptoms in order to provide appropriate support. Creating a supportive learning environment is key to promoting student mental health. This can include promoting healthy lifestyles and self-care, implementing stress management techniques, encouraging social connection and open communication, and integrating mental health education. Additionally, access to mental health services and developing coping skills are essential components of supporting student mental health.


Understanding Student Mental Health



It's important to understand that mental health is not just the absence of mental illness, but rather a state of well-being in which individuals can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their communities.


To support student mental health, we must first recognize the signs of mental health challenges. According to the CDC, some common signs of mental health challenges in children and adolescents include:

  • Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks

  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

  • Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities

  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason

  • Significant weight loss or gain

  • Seeing, hearing, or believing things that are not real

  • Significant difficulty concentrating or staying still

  • Intense feelings of anger or outbursts


It's important to note that mental health challenges can manifest differently in each individual. Therefore, it's essential to create a safe and supportive environment where students feel comfortable seeking help and sharing their experiences.


To support student mental health, we can also promote mental health literacy. Mental health literacy refers to the knowledge and skills needed to understand and address mental health challenges. By promoting mental health literacy, we can reduce stigma, increase awareness, and empower students to seek help when needed. Some ways to promote mental health literacy include encouraging open and honest conversations about mental health, and promoting self-care practices such as mindfulness and stress-reduction techniques


By understanding student mental health and promoting mental health literacy, we can create a supportive environment that fosters student well-being and academic success.


Creating a Supportive Learning Environment


Empty classroom

Parents, teachers and tutors, like myself, play a vital role in creating a supportive and inclusive learning environment that fosters student well-being. Here are a few practical suggestions for creating a supportive learning environment:


Fostering Positive Relationships

One of the most important ways to support student mental health is by fostering positive relationships. Students who feel connected to their peers, teachers and tutors are more likely to feel safe, supported, and engaged in their learning. Here are some ways to foster positive relationships:


  • Encouraging open communication: Encouraging students to share their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a safe and supportive environment.

  • Promoting empathy: Helping students develop empathy by encouraging them to put themselves in others' shoes and consider different perspectives.

  • Building a sense of community: Creating a sense of community by celebrating diversity, promoting inclusivity, like we do at Après-School Tutoring, and encouraging teamwork.


Incorporating Mindfulness Practices

Another way to support student mental health is by incorporating mindfulness practices. Mindfulness practices can help students develop self-awareness, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve their overall well-being and focus. Here are some ways to incorporate mindfulness practices:


  • Practice deep breathing: Encourage students to take a few deep breaths before starting a new activity or during transitions. This can help them feel more calm and focused.

  • Practice mindfulness meditation: Guide students through a mindfulness meditation practice to help them develop self-awareness and reduce stress.

  • Practice yoga or stretching: Incorporate yoga or stretching exercises to help students release tension and improve their physical and mental well-being.

By fostering positive relationships and incorporating mindfulness practices, we can create a supportive learning environment that promotes student well-being and success.


Promoting Healthy Lifestyles and Habits



At the core of supporting student mental health is promoting healthy lifestyles. A healthy lifestyle is not only about physical fitness but also encompasses mental and emotional well-being. Here are some practical suggestions for promoting healthy lifestyles among students:


Encouraging Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and well-being, and can alleviate stress, improve mood, and boost concentration. Encouraging students to engage in physical activity can help reduce anxiety, improve self-esteem, and promote better sleep. We can encourage physical activity by:


  • Enrolling students into sports teams

  • Providing access to fitness facilities and equipment

  • Organizing outdoor activities such as hikes and nature walks

  • Encouraging students to walk or bike to school


Nutrition and Mental Well-being

Nutrition is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle and has a significant impact on mental well-being, and stress and busy schedules can lead to poor eating habits. Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help improve mood, reduce stress, and promote better sleep. We can promote good nutrition by:


  • Offering healthy food options

  • Providing nutrition education

  • Encouraging students to pack healthy snacks and lunches to fuel their bodies and brains

  • Promoting the importance of staying hydrated

Prioritize Self-Care

Establishing a Routine: It's important to create a daily balanced schedule that includes time for studying, but also regular breaks for relaxation, exercise, and social activities. Having a routine can provide a sense of structure and stability and help reduce stress and improve time management.


Getting Adequate Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential for memory and learning! Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Prioritize sleep hygiene by avoiding screens before bed and creating a comfortable sleep environment.


By promoting healthy lifestyles, we can support the mental health and well-being of students. Encouraging physical activity, good nutrition and self-care are just a few practical suggestions for promoting healthy lifestyles among students.


Implementing Stress Management Techniques



When it comes to supporting student mental health, implementing stress management techniques is crucial. Here are a few practical suggestions that can help students manage their stress levels:


Time Management Skills

Teaching time management skills is one of the most effective ways to help students manage their stress levels. By prioritizing tasks, students can avoid feeling overwhelmed and anxious. One way to teach time management skills is to encourage students to create a schedule or to-do list. This can help them visualize what they need to accomplish and break tasks down into manageable steps. Additionally, we can encourage students to avoid procrastination and to work on assignments in small increments to avoid feeling overwhelmed.


Relaxation and Breathing Exercises

Relaxation and breathing exercises can be effective in reducing stress levels. Encouraging students to take a few minutes to practice deep breathing or meditation can help them feel more relaxed and focused. Additionally, we can suggest activities like yoga or stretching to help students release tension and improve their overall well-being.


It's important to note that stress management techniques are not one-size-fits-all. What works for one student may not work for another. By providing a variety of stress management techniques and encouraging students to experiment with different methods, we can help them find what works best for them.


Encouraging Social Connection



We know that social connectedness is a key driver of well-being and resilience. As such, it is important to encourage social connection among students in order to support their mental health. Here are two practical suggestions for how we can do this:


Building Community Within the Classroom

One way to encourage social connection is to build a sense of community within the classroom. This can be done by creating opportunities for students to get to know one another and to work together. For example, we might assign group projects or activities that require collaboration. We might also encourage students to share their interests and hobbies with one another, or to participate in extracurricular activities together.


Facilitating Peer Support Networks

Another way to encourage social connection is to facilitate peer support networks. This can be done by creating opportunities for students to support one another. For example, we might encourage students to check in with one another regularly, to offer words of encouragement, or to provide a listening ear when needed. We might also create peer support groups or clubs that focus on specific topics or interests.


By building community within the classroom and facilitating peer support networks, we can help students to feel more connected and supported. This, in turn, can help to promote their mental health and well-being.


Integrating Mental Health Education



At the heart of supporting student mental health is education. It is the responsibility of educators and parents alike to provide students with the knowledge and tools they need to make informed decisions about their mental health. Here are a few suggestions to educate students about mental health:


Destigmatizing Mental Health Discussions

One of the biggest barriers to mental health education is the stigma surrounding mental illness. In order to break down these barriers, we need to create a safe and supportive environment for students to discuss their mental health. This can be accomplished by:


  • Encouraging open and honest discussions about mental health

  • Normalizing mental health struggles as a common experience

  • Providing opportunities for students to share their experiences and feelings

  • Educating students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness.


By destigmatizing mental health discussions, we can create a culture of openness and understanding that will help students feel comfortable seeking help when they need it.


Providing Resources and Information

In addition to destigmatizing mental health discussions, we also need to provide students with the resources and information they need to take care of their mental health. This can include:


  • Providing access to mental health professionals, such as school counselors or therapists

  • Educating students about self-care practices, such as exercise and mindfulness

  • Providing information about community resources, such as support groups and hotlines

  • Providing access to workshops and classes on mental health topics, such as stress management and coping skills


By providing students with the resources and information they need, we can empower them to take control of their mental health and well-being.


Access to Mental Health Services


As adults, we need to make sure students are aware of the counseling services and mental health resources available to them. One of the most practical ways to support student mental health is by offering access to counseling services. Many students may be hesitant to seek help due to stigma or lack of resources, but having on-campus counseling services and ensuring access to professional help is easy and confidential can help reduce those barriers.


  • Utilizing Campus Resources: Being familiar with the mental health resources available on campus, such as counseling services, support groups, or wellness workshops.

  • Reach Out for Professional Help: If students are struggling with persistent feelings of anxiety, depression, or overwhelming stress, they should consider seeking support from a mental health professional.


Supporting Student Mental Health Before and During Finals


Supporting student mental health, especially ahead of final exams, is crucial for their overall well-being as well as their academic performance and success. Studying for finals can bring heightened anxiety levels, sleep deprivation, burnout, and isolation, all of which can negatively impact students' mental health.


To mitigate these effects, it's crucial to adopt effective study tips before and during finals week. In our last blog post, we shared the best strategies for students to 'study smarter, not harder' ahead of finals in order to improve learning efficiency. Additionally, avoiding procrastination by starting planning for final exams at the beginning of the semester and breaking up studying by chapters in the textbook can help alleviate academic-related stress and anxiety. This approach not only enhances preparation but also preserves mental well-being during this stressful period.


Key strategies include making a finals game plan to plan out study sessions for all exams and setting alerts and reminders on one's phone. Starting early, dedicating time each day for each subject a few weeks before the first exam, and staying organized by scheduling class meetings, homework, assignments, and projects are essential steps towards achieving academic success while maintaining mental health. These study tips for finals coupled with the above wellness suggestions can significantly aid students in navigating finals week more effectively.


Here are a few additional practical wellness suggestions that can help:


  • Creating Quiet Study Spaces: Providing quiet, comfortable areas where students can focus on their studies without distractions, and ensuring that these spaces have good lighting and minimal noise.

  • Encouraging Digital Detox: Too much screen time, especially on social media, can increase stress and feelings of inadequacy. Encouraging students to take regular breaks from digital devices to recharge is important.

  • Teaching Time Management Skills: Poor time management can exacerbate stress. Counseling on effective study techniques, prioritization, and how to break down large tasks into manageable parts may alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with studying and preparing for finals.

  • Celebrating Small Wins: Acknowledging student efforts and progress throughout the exam preparation period to boost their motivation and confidence is essential.

Implementing these suggestions requires a concerted effort. By creating an environment that prioritizes mental health and wellness, students can navigate the challenges of final exams with resilience and support.


Conclusion


Prioritizing mental health for students is essential for overall well-being and academic success. By incorporating these practical wellness suggestions into the students' daily life, we can take proactive steps to support their mental health. Remember, it's okay to seek help and prioritize self-care. The mental well-being of students matters, and by implementing these strategies, they're investing in a healthier and more balanced lifestyle. At Après-School Tutoring, we take pride in not only providing a supportive, and inclusive learning environment but also in celebrating diversity, promoting empathy and inclusivity, that foster student well-being.


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