Teachers don’t have time for students’ mental health 1



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A study has found that while the vast majority of educators consider students’ mental health as important as academic achievement, 22 per cent report that they do not feel confident handling mental health issues.

Furthermore, beyondblue, which conducted the nationwide survey of 600 teachers and principals, found that almost half did not have the time or the resources to address students’ mental wellbeing.

These figures are alarming considering reports from the NSW Department of Education that up to two children per week have considered self-harm related to bullying, anxiety or depression. It’s believed mental health affects a quarter of today’s school kids and beyondblue says teachers can play an important role in reaching these children.

Beyondblue Board Director Julia Gillard says, “Evidence suggests half of mental health conditions emerge by age 14, so this work with impressionable young people in the school environment is vitally important”.

To address the lack of skills in this area, the mental health awareness charity has revised and relaunched its MindMatters initiative, which provides a framework for creating a whole-school mental-health strategy.

The program is built on the following pillars: positive school community; resilience skills; family involvement; and support for those students experiencing mental health difficulties, and is designed to address attitudes, beliefs and behaviours associated with mental health problems.

While this program is certainly a step in the right direction, the fact remains that many Australian teachers are overworked and under pressure. A Monash University study found lack of support plus heavy administration and compliance demands took a toll on teachers, with one in four experiencing burnout. Many teachers may now be wondering how they are going to fit their students’ mental wellbeing into their day as well.


Over to you: Do you believe teachers should improve their skills in recognising and dealing with mental health issues? Are you or were you a teacher? Do you consider a students’ mental health a teacher’s responsibility? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Yes! Of course mental health is VERY important. When confronted by a new class every year, teachers need to know what’s in the student’s back-pack: and I don’t mean what they’re having for lunch. It becomes very clear very early in the behaviours exhibited, that some kids are very much in need of assistance, but as your article said, WHERE in the day is that personal time for each student allocated? We stumble along, hoping that we can provide what’s needed when faced with an overly crowded curriculum, emphasis on “practising” for testing, testing, follow up testing- and can I say, actually teaching the mandatory stuff.
    They say it takes a village. This is WAY to important an issue to flippantly leave to teachers in school hours. We are ALL teachers. The wider community needs to be involved, and everyone needs to be on the same paqe. Parenting, as well as teaching is what’s needed.

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