Importance of Mental Health among Students
Mental health is an important facet of one’s life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it can be defined as “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
As awareness of the importance of mental health increases, more and more researches are being conducted to relate the importance of mental health with the learning process. Among others, the American College Health Association, in a survey in 2015, found that students with psychological distress received lower grades in their exams or courses, and experienced a significant disruption in completing their theses, dissertations and/or practicum tasks.
Furthermore, WHO states that mental health experts from New York, USA, have found out that earlier intervention for possible mental health disorders could increase the chances of a positive outcome. The importance of mental health should, therefore, be highlighted from an early age. Students with poor mental health may typically find it difficult to concentrate on their lessons. Symptoms that they might display include restlessness, having a short attention span, being distracted and facing difficulties in remembering simple information. Therefore, having larger projects broken down into smaller tasks or taking short breaks in between lessons can be helpful for such students to gather their attention and get their tasks accomplished.
Poor mental health is also associated with poor interpersonal skills. This translates to students having difficulty in interacting with another person, whether in initiating conversations with friends or asking teachers questions. One way to approach this is with a mentor-mentee or a ‘buddy’ program. This can be helpful in getting the students out of their shells while also encouraging them to be more involved in social interactions.
Finally, mental health is also instrumental in allowing students to accept negative feedback with a positive mindset. Poor mental health may lead to the student being skeptical toward understanding a different perspective or in interpreting criticism. This type of individual is generally protective and defensive of his thoughts and does not take opinions from a third party easily. Hence, in promoting better mental health among their students, teachers in this situation can try different tactics. For instance, they could personally convey their feedback to the individual students instead of sharing it in front of the whole classroom. The latter may be perceived by the students as an act of exposing their weaknesses, which may also cause a negative impact in their lives, such as lower self-esteem.
Understanding this, Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School, a prestigious American boarding school in Johor, Malaysia, prioritizes the mental wellbeing of your children in addition to emphasizing academic excellence while equipping them with the necessary skill-sets to take on the challenges of the 21st Century.
For one, social development, an important aspect that contributes to one’s mental health, is heavily highlighted through a variety of activities across all levels at the school. The Early Childhood program integrates authentic social interactions and scenarios that allow students to learn to solve problems, conflict resolution strategies and how to compromise at a developmentally appropriate level. As these students progress to Lower School, they will join their teachers in regular Morning Meeting sessions that allow them to improve their social skills in a group setting. This effort continues in the Upper School through the Advisory program, during which students are equipped with both study and social skills.
“More often than not, an individual’s physical health and mental wellbeing are closely intertwined; and both are equally important in determining their success in life. Here at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School, we endeavor to create a safe and enriching environment that is able to protect and enhance both these aspects in our younger generations to ensure that they are well equipped for their future,” said Jessica Dean, a counseling teacher at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School.
For more information on the school and its curriculum, visit https://www.ssm-fc.org/.