“Good well-being. This entails the optimal development and use

“Good mental health is more
than just the absence of mental illness. It can be seen as a state of mental
health that allows one to flourish and fully enjoy life.”

Working in education is
exciting yet highly demanding, especially when teenagers are in the picture.
The impact that a teacher may have on a teen’s development and well-being is
profound, and as a result the role of the teacher often extends beyond the
traditional classroom. This can be challenging for some teachers, particularly
when faced with mental health problems that youth may be experiencing. The
mental health of students in schools is an often overlooked, yet extremely
relevant issue for today’s educator. In Canada, between 15 and 20 percent of
youth suffer from a mental disorder that would benefit from professional care,
and six to eight percent of young people suffer from depression. By learning
how to recognize and address adolescent mental health problems, as well as how
to appropriately refer those young people suffering from mental health problems
to health professionals for treatment, educators have a unique opportunity to
play an important role in the health and wellbeing of Canadian youth. It is
therefore imperative that teachers are equipped with the practical tools and
knowledge required to recognize and intervene appropriately in situations where
mental illness may be a concern. Generally mental health refers to the capacity
of an individual, a group and the environment to interact with one another in
ways that promote the feeling of well-being. This entails the optimal
development and use of mental abilities (thinking, reasoning, understanding,
feeling and behavior) required for normal level of functioning. According to
World Health Organization (WHO), Mental Health is defined as a state of
well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope
with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is
able to make a contribution to his or her community. It is a state of optimal
development and functioning of the individual allowing the realization of
aspiration and satisfaction of needs as well as the ability to change or cope
with the environment (Michael, et al 1996). So in this respect schools and teachers play a
vital role in recognizing and supporting students with mental health problems. Schools
and teachers have an important role in the recognition of mental health
problems and in promoting mental wellbeing for all children. It has therefore
rightly said that teachers are in a unique position to really make a difference
when it comes to promoting and addressing student mental health concerns in and
out of the classroom Research has also shown that mental health promotion and
prevention programmes have significant benefits for children and teenagers. The
earlier the intervention and the quicker a problem is picked up, treated and
managed, the better the long-term outcome for the child and family (Buckley
2010). Thus the role that schools and teachers
play in promoting positive mental health in children should not be
underestimated. Creating a school ethos which promotes and builds strengths
among students, whatever their academic profile, can turn risk into resilience
and significantly reduce the prevalence and impact of mental health disorders.

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