January 2019 eNews | Issue #04

Be the Difference
a child being bullied at school by 3 of his peers

Our Student Profile Has Changed: Here Are 5 Tips to Support Teachers with Modern Bullying

January 2019 | Issue #04

Mental health in childhood signifies reaching developmental and emotional milestones, learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities. Mentally healthy children often can manage challenging, stressful, difficult situations with the guidance and support of a caring adult in their life. Children can build resilience with the supports of caring adults in their lives. For children to reach their full potential and lead an enriching fulfilling life. They need to have sound mental wellness.

There are a variety of factors and circumstances that can impact a child's mental health status, both in positive and negative ways. When children grow, they need to be in an environment which provides love, structure, consistency, understanding, trust, safety and security. Unfortunately, some children are faced with a childhood that is filled with fear, distrust, negativity, mistreatment, and exposure to violence. Children faced with these situations have a difficult time coping with understanding and managing their emotions. It is a difficult process for any person, let alone a child, to overcome such adversity. Protective factors can be a caring adult, teacher, caregiver; someone in the child’s life that takes an interest, provides encouragement, positive role modeling, supports, patterning healthy coping strategies, and when appropriate is proactive, seeking professional mental health supports when the challenges the child is experiencing our impeding with their abilities to manage their world. Prevention and early intervention can make all the difference and can improve the trajectory of their life.

When mental health concerns are not addressed it can impact every aspect of a child’s life; from impacting the ability to develop healthy peer relationships, social interactions, trust and engagement with adults, and school performance. Those who have daily contact with students have the unique ability to utilize observations, noting changes in behaviors and function, and also have the ability to identify and intervene by seeking supports when noting a student may be struggling. Children with mental health issues often have a difficult time adjusting to changes in their environment, they are often hypervigilant and reactive, they tend to have lower self-worth, negative feelings, perform poorly in school, and later engage in unhealthy life decisions.

Parents are often the first to notice significant changes in behavior. Teens may show changes in sleep and eating patterns, have trouble concentrating, isolate from their friends or withdraw from activities or interests. Because some young people may be uncomfortable discussing their struggles, they may not reach out for help. It is up to us to notice and reach out when they may need help. One of the most important things we can do for adolescents is to help them learn about their own mental health and activate their motivation to participate in treatment.

Erica Hoffman (2018, August) suggests: 4 Tools to Boost Your Mental Health at School:

  1. Know the signs. Youth have unique risk factors for mental health problems, especially when you consider today’s often highly-competitive, stressful school environment. Knowing what signs to look for—like withdrawing from friends, dramatically increased or decreased appetite or acting out uncharacteristically—can help you know when you may need to offer support to a student.
  2. Know how to start a conversation. Though more people are now talking openly about mental health, stigma is pervasive and can make having conversations about mental health tough—especially for young people. Being genuine is a good place to start. If this is an uncomfortable topic for you, saying something like, “This is hard for me to talk about, and maybe it’s difficult for you too,” can be a good way to start the conversation.
  3. Know what resources are available. Does your school have a mental health counselor? Is it appropriate to involve parents or other caregivers? Are there support groups in the area that might be helpful? Know what resources are available in your school and community so you can be prepared to offer information to a student who needs it. Being able to provide a young person with information on what help is available can be an invaluable tool
  4. Take care of yourself. “You can’t serve from an empty vessel.” The act of providing support to others can sometimes leave you feeling worn out, frustrated or even angry. Taking the time to do things for yourself—like taking a walk, doing some breathing exercises or venting to an understanding friend—will help you stay healthy, happy and in a better frame of mind to care for others.

Hoffman, E. (2018, August). 4 tools to boost your mental health at school. Retrieved from

Mental Health and First Aid