March 10, 2023 healthcare

Providing mental health care for students, teachers is vital

KUWAIT: Providing mental health care for both students and teachers is important for the students’ academic progression and the teachers’ ability to do their jobs, teachers say. “There is clear difference in academic success for students in classes that are taught by fully present teachers and others that are taught by distracted teachers,” said Samia Ibrahim, Principal of an American school in Kuwait.

“Teachers’ mental stability highly affects students’ absorption of the material that is being taught, because despite their young age, students can sense their teacher’s consideration of the material and the quality of teaching. This consequently affects students’ commitment to their studies as the majority mirror their teacher’s spirit in class,” she said.

Regardless of the material’s importance, teachers’ commitment and attentiveness during class determines a major part of students’ interest in learning. Although teachers’ performance plays a major role in academic success, students also need to have enough awareness and willingness for exceling at school. A healthy mind encourages such enthusiasm.

Ghadeer Ghafour, a high school English teacher, also confirms the importance of offering mental health support for teachers at school. “It helps teachers seek the right method of teaching in order to help students perform better. Most importantly, it allows teachers to comprehend the different personalities they encounter so that they know how to deal with them individually,” she said.

Ghafour highlighted the importance of providing mental health support for students as well. “Mental health care is very crucial in schools, mainly because it helps students control their emotions, behavior and thinking. Mental health support can help improve students’ mood and reduce anxiety. Thus, it will significantly have an impact on the way they behave.”

According to Ghafour, students’ mental health goes hand in hand with their achievement at school. Similarly, Ibrahim highlighted the importance of offering mental health care at schools, but she said parents have the biggest effect on students’ mentality.

“The roots of students’ mental health mainly go back to their household environment. Parents’ impact on students’ mental health prevails over the impact of school. However, providing mental health care at schools can help improve students’ mental health, because students spend almost one third of their daily lives at school. Therefore, setting up a routinely scheduled meeting with the consultant can have a powerful impact on students’ mentality,” she said.

In agreement with Ibrahim and Ghafour, Mohammad Al-Ansari, also a high school teacher, said: “Unfortunately, not all parents are competent or caring, so schools should step in to fill this gap. Teenagers today are particularly susceptible to negative self-perception and depression, which is only magnified by social media and alienation. As a society, we need to prioritize mental health education in schools to help students navigate the challenges of the modern world.”

Outdated school system

Ansari criticized the current situation at schools. “The current school system is outdated and doesn’t adequately prepare students for life. Nowadays, schools primarily aim to prepare students for college or university, but with higher education becoming more saturated, degrees are becoming less valuable. The purpose of schools should be to prepare children for life, and this includes teaching them about mental health,” he said.

As a teacher, Ansari sees that hiring a specialist at school that provides mental health care for students is necessary. “As per my experience, I spend 70 percent of my class time attempting to adjust kids’ behaviors, which should not be my job in the first place. Sometimes, teachers are required to do more than their work as teachers, such as watch children, teach good manners and other things,” he pointed out.


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