Mental health is essential to our well-being, and schools should do all they can to promote mental health, success, and well-being.
Some studies have revealed that there is a prominent link between mental health and educational outcomes, as school struggles often have an impact on mental health.
For example, research shows that students who feel stigmatized by the type of schools they attend may be at increased risk for depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation.
When mental health is treated as a significant issue, schools must take steps to prevent secondary and tertiary effects, including mental health-related problems.
Here are 7 ways in which schools affect mental health:
1. A school’s Culture and Social Environment
Students’ time with their peers has been associated with poorer mental health. For example, students who miss recess often report more depressive symptoms than those who attend breaks regularly.
It may be because when students are in school for a vast portion of their day, they cannot interact with peers as often outside school as with more recess time. School culture and social environment also typically reflect on how students are treated.
Students bullied, mislabeled, and abused by peers often suffer low self-esteem and negative feelings about themselves. Subsequently, they may have a greater risk of developing symptoms of depression and other mental health issues.
Schools should strive to create a positive social environment where all students can learn and grow without being put down by their peers.
2. Academic Environment
Students are at an increased risk for depression and anxiety as they enter adolescence. As they are in a new stage of their life, school can be a struggle.
Students who have to complete many assignments outside of school hours may struggle with balancing the academic demands of school with their other responsibilities.
It leaves them less time to spend with family and friends, which could lead to depression and anxiety. Schools should evaluate the class size, and the number of homework students have.
Schools should keep communication lines between parents and teachers about students’ academic well-being.
3. The Physical Environment
Research has found that the physical environment of schools can influence the well-being of students, mainly when dealing with stressors such as peer pressure and antagonism in the classroom.
For example, students exposed to a building that is not up to code or requires general maintenance have been shown to have heightened rates of stress.
It may be because students who attend schools with a poor physical environment may feel that the school does not care about them overall. Schools should ensure that all buildings are maintained and up-to-date with current code regulations.
4. Social Environment
Many factors can influence a student’s mental health, for instance, their family situation, friends, and other people around them. The school significantly impacts students’ social environment by interacting with peers and teachers.
Peer pressure and academic achievement are often cited as factors that hurt the mental health of students exposed to these stresses throughout the day.
Schools must ensure that they are creating an academic and social environment that is supportive and safe for all students.
5. Mental Health Problems Can Disrupt Education
Students with mental health issues may disrupt the learning environment for their classmates and themselves. For example, a student may panic attack in class or exhibit aggressive behavior leading to suspension from school.
It may cause uncertainty and anxiety in the student’s family and home environment and lead to other mental health issues. To promote positive mental health in students, schools should work with local healthcare institutions to ensure that students receive the help they need.
Research suggests that teachers may be more likely to grade lower on students they perceive as having mental health problems. It could lead to decreased academic performance and increased stress, which could cause more mental health issues.
Teachers may assume that a student who frequently expresses frustration or anger at school is having a negative experience academically because they are failing to learn.
In addition, teachers may also assume that if a child is having trouble in school, it also applies to their home life with family and friends. It can lead to increased student stress, negatively affecting mental health.
7. School Practices, Policies, and Procedures
Schools should strive to create a policy and practice promoting inclusion for all students. Schools should also ensure that they have a clear understanding of the rights of their student population and are committed to working toward the well-being of their students. It will include having plans in place if student mental health does become an issue.
Conclusion – How Does Schools Affect Mental Health
Schools can create positive climates by implementing student-centered practices and policies, all while promoting mental health that supports students in their academic and social environments.
Schools need to be aware that they are a significant contribution to development. If school is not a safe or welcoming place for many students, it can negatively influence how students view themselves.
It may lead to mental health difficulties such as isolation and depression. Many will feel comfortable coming forward when they suffer from issues affecting those around them, including teachers and peers.