In our last blog, we discussed the need for mental health support as a prerequisite to close the academic gap caused by interrupted learning during the pandemic. (Here’s a link in case you missed it.)
Not every school can afford to bring in clinical mental health experts to counsel students. If you’re in a budget crunch, that doesn’t mean you can’t address the mental wellness of your students and staff members.
Remember, you already have a valuable resource at your disposal: your talented school staff. By providing mental health training to key staff members, you can greatly increase your ability to help struggling students.
Plus, you gain the knowledge and skills to help your entire teaching staff to recognize mental health issues, to intervene properly, and even to better manage their own challenges.
Mental health training for school personnel helps you provide support for students & staff
Educators have some of the most important jobs in the world: to prepare young people for the future. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that students need their mental health addressed first before they can access their education.
The problem is, most school personnel aren’t trained in how to deal with mental health issues.
As a result, students don’t get the help they need, so they fail to achieve their potential. It also means that many educators face a difficult and stressful time when they are confronted with emotional and behavioral issues that they don’t have the tools to manage.
Keep in mind that the pandemic has contributed to increased mental health issues for staff members as well as students.
For schools to confidently and effectively address mental health issues, educators and school personnel need to be properly trained to handle these complex problems. These are some of the benefits for your staff:
- Decrease in stress levels and frustration
- Increase in connectedness with students and faculty
- Increased ability to effectively manage challenging situations and difficult classroom behaviors
- Increased job effectiveness and satisfaction to avoid burnout
Let’s take a look at what effective school mental health training looks like.
5 components of mental health training for teachers & school staff
To make an impact on student and staff success, mental health training for schools needs to be more than a one-day professional development. Here’s what to look for.
1. Continuous learning and ongoing support
This pandemic has taught us all that we can’t count on things staying the same. Student needs have changed dramatically during the past year, and they will continue to change as we move back toward more normal conditions.
Therefore, school staff need continuous learning and access to ongoing support to be prepared to address the changing needs of the district. This will allow staff to implement new strategies and tools to address the current needs of staff and students.
2. Mental health & educational expertise
Mental health training for school personnel needs to be conducted by mental health professionals with the educational model in mind.
Mental health experts who provide training to school staff need to be well-versed in the clinical and educational models and how they integrate in a school setting. Traditional tactics used by mental health professionals are not always helpful or appropriate in a classroom setting. School staff need strategies and tools that can be implemented in a school setting and into their day to day practices.
3. Actionable advice
Mental health training should be actionable and applicable, providing school staff with information and techniques that they can use immediately with struggling students. Advice needs to be timely in order to be proactive in addressing student mental health needs and preventing crisis situations.
4. Flexible requirements
Learners come in all shapes and sizes, and teachers already have their hands full. Training should be able to fit into the schedule of school staff and be flexible to accommodate all learners.
5. Help for staff mental health
Your staff’s mental health needs also need to be addressed and considered during this training. Staff should learn how to identify their own needs and what supports should be in place to assist them in their roles in a school setting.
Learn about Thrive Alliance Group’s mental health training, coaching, and certification program for school staff.
Preparation is key to addressing mental health in schools
No one likes to feel unprepared and some are even fearful of uncertainty. One of the scariest things about the pandemic was the feeling of uncertainty and not having information about the symptoms, how long the virus lasts on surfaces, when a vaccine will be available, and when it will be safe to see loved ones.
One of the best ways to begin developing a plan to support mental health in schools is getting your staff prepared and addressing this uncertainty with mental health training.
Mental health needs were increasing prior to the pandemic and have continued trending upward in response to the past year. We have the responsibility to train our school staff to meet these mental health needs.