As students continue to face the challenges of remote learning, social isolation, and academic pressure, their mental health has become a growing concern in schools. This article will discuss five actionable ways the school PTA can support students' mental health and well-being.
According to a recent report by Education Week, schools increasingly recognize the importance of supporting students' mental health and well-being. With ongoing uncertainty and stress, students need more support to manage their emotions and mental health. Check out this report from Education Week on the importance of supporting student mental health: https://www.edweek.org/topics/student-well-being/index.html
That's where the school PTA can step in. As an essential part of the school community, the PTA can play a vital role in promoting mental health and wellness for students.
Let's explore ten ways the PTA can support student mental health:
1. Hosting Mental Health Awareness Events
PTAs can host mental health awareness events, such as assemblies or guest speaker presentations, to help reduce stigma and promote healthy discussions about mental health. These events can also provide students with resources and support to help manage their mental health.
To learn more about mental health awareness events, check out this article from Education Week: https://www.edweek.org/topics/student-well-being/index.html
2. Providing Access to Mental Health Resources
PTAs can provide access to mental health resources, such as counseling services or therapy programs. By partnering with mental health professionals or organizations, PTAs can help connect students with the resources they need to support their mental health.
Check out this resource from ASCD for more information on how to provide access to mental health resources: https://www.ascd.org/topics/health-wellness-mindset/mindfulness-and-well-being
3. Supporting Social-Emotional Learning Programs
PTAs can support social-emotional learning programs in schools, which can help students develop skills to manage their emotions and build healthy relationships. These programs can provide a foundation for positive mental health outcomes for students.
4. Advocating for Mental Health Policies
PTAs can advocate for policies and legislation that support mental health in schools. This could include advocating for increased funding for mental health resources, improved access to care for students, or increased training and support for school staff.
Check out this article from TeachThought for more information on advocating for mental health policies: https://www.teachthought.com/pedagogy/40-resources-to-help-students-parents-and-teachers-talk-about-mental-health/
5. Providing Peer Support Programs
Creating peer support programs is a great way for PTAs to provide mental health support for students. The PTA can connect students with trained peer counselors or mental health professionals to offer support and guidance.
6. Organize Mindfulness and Wellness Workshops
PTA's can organize mindfulness and wellness workshops for students. These workshops can help students develop coping skills to manage stress and anxiety. By providing students with tools to promote their mental health and well-being, PTAs can positively impact the school community.
Outbound Link: Check out this article from Edutopia on mindfulness practices in schools: https://www.edutopia.org/topic/mindfulness
7. Promote Physical Health
Physical health is closely linked to mental health, and PTAs can support both by promoting physical activity and healthy habits. PTAs can organize events such as walks, runs, or sports days to promote physical activity among students. They can also work with school staff to ensure healthy food options are available in the cafeteria.
8. Create Safe Spaces for Students
Creating safe spaces for students can help them feel supported and heard. PTAs can work with school staff to create safe spaces for students to discuss their feelings, experiences, and mental health concerns. These spaces can be physical or virtual and facilitated by trained professionals or peer counselors.
Outbound Link: Check out this resource from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on creating safe spaces for mental health: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/June-2020/Creating-Safe-Spaces-for-Mental-Health
9. Provide Mental Health First Aid Training
PTAs can provide mental health first aid training for teachers, staff, and parents to recognize signs of mental health issues in students and provide initial support. This training can help reduce the stigma around mental health and increase awareness of available resources for students in need.
10. Partner with Mental Health Organizations
PTAs can partner with local mental health organizations to provide support and resources for students and families. These organizations can offer workshops, counseling services, and other resources to support mental health initiatives in schools.
Supporting mental health in students is crucial for their overall well-being and academic success. As an essential part of the school community, the PTA can play a vital role in promoting mental health and wellness for students. By hosting mental health awareness events, providing access to mental health resources, supporting social-emotional learning programs, advocating for mental health policies, and creating peer support programs, PTAs can help reduce stigma and promote positive mental health outcomes in schools.
Here are two other articles that may be helpful for your school or PTA:
Parent Teacher Groups – What to Consider When Creating Your “New Normal” https://www.k12clothing.com/post/parent-teacher-groups-what-to-consider-when-creating-your-new-normal
"Re-Energize Your PTA: Tactics to Rise Above the Norm" https://www.k12clothing.com/post/re-energize-your-pta-tactics-to-rise-above-the-norm
What other ways do your PTA or school support students' mental health? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.