How To Support Mental Health in the Classroom

Year after year, the students arriving in my classroom are exhibiting more signs of mental health problems. From anxiety to depression to anger, I've seen it all and, over the years, have developed some great ways to support mental health in the classroom.

Sad child with text, "How to Support Mental Health in the Classroom."

Throughout my career, I've taught students from Grades 2 to 6. Despite the considerable age gap between the oldest and youngest, mental health concerns have been part of every classroom.

While the strategies I've used in my classrooms have varied by age group, the foundation remains the same - I believe my students need to know that I care about them and how they are doing.

My Classroom Must-Haves

I have three routines in my classroom that are extremely important to me in supporting my students' mental health:

  1. I greet my students every morning at the classroom door. None of the fist-bumping, high-fiving greetings that are contrived for social media, though. This is simply looking at each of my students in the eye and saying, "Good morning," with a smile. I want every child to know that I am happy to see them when they walk through my classroom door.
  2. A place for my students to "check in" to let me know how they are feeling that day. They may not be willing to share their emotional state verbally, but they never have a problem sharing exactly where they are on our check-in board.
  3. A way for my students to communicate their personal feelings and needs with me in private. This has been a great method to reach my most struggling students.

What This Looks Like In Action

Obviously, these routines looked different in my primary classroom than they do currently in my Grade 5/6 classroom, but all the components are there.

In my primary classroom, I had a feelings board posted. Each of my students' names was mounted onto a magnet, and each day during our morning routine the students would place their name under the heading that best described their feelings.

"How are you feeling today?" check-in board.

In a middle school classroom, the students are far less comfortable wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and so their check-in on our classroom board is more private.

I'm not a huge fan of wasting a class set of post-it notes every day on the posters that are floating around social media, so I have placed each of my student's names on a popsicle stick and attached signs to some magnetic pen holders from the dollar store.

Each morning, my students find the stick with their name and place it into the appropriate section to indicate how they feel as they enter the classroom.

"How Are You Feeling Today?" Check-In Station

With the current situation keeping many students and teachers at home, checking in with our student's mental health is more important than ever, so I've adapted this check-in station to a digital format. Grab both versions by clicking here:

Click here to get a free printable or digital check in station.

I also have a designated space in my classroom where students can access an "I Wish My Teacher Knew" notepaper and write to me privately. It is entirely optional for them to add their name to this. I have been genuinely amazed by the things my students have shared with me this year and how they have helped us build a solid relationship.

"I Wish My Teacher Knew" notepaper

"I Wish My Teacher Knew" notepaper and container

"I Wish My Teacher Knew" Notepaper and Digital Google Form Offer

This notepaper is also available as a Google Form for easy communication with your students during distance learning. Click the image above to grab your FREE copy!


While I didn't have the notepaper in my primary classroom, I did create an entire package of feelings and emotions resources that I used. These are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. You can check them out by clicking on the image below:

Feelings and Emotions Calm Down Kit and Posters

Finally, I also try to encourage my students to keep a private journal to have an outlet for emotions. Grab this free Feelings Journal in my Freebie Library as well by clicking on the image below:

Free Feelings Journal Resource

BONUS TIP: I've kept a life planner for years now and love to use it to track my own mood and reflect on each day, so I've started providing my students with the opportunity to do the same with my Year in Pixels printable page.

Photo of Year in Pixels mood tracker in planner

Click HERE or on the image above to grab a printable copy to use in your classroom!


Make the mental health of your students a priority today! Grab the freebies above to get started, then check out this post containing great tips about teacher mental health strategies!

Image of teacher with head on desk and text, "How to Maintain Your Love of Teaching Even During a Tough Year."

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Sad child with text, "How to Support Mental Health in the Classroom."



7 comments

  1. Thank you! I am beginning to feel more and more like I need it too. I think I will put my name on a check-in stick, as well!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you're saying! Hang in there. You've got this!

      Stay well,

      Erin

      Delete
  2. Thank you Erin. This is my 29th year of teaching and i have never felt so unprepared for the first day of school. It has been a difficult week and haven't even started teaching. feeling very nervous and uncertain. Thank you for your great ideas during this unknown time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Daniela,

      I know exactly what you're saying. This is my 23rd and it has been challenging to say the least! I wish you all the best heading back.

      Stay well,
      Erin

      Delete
  3. Thank you Erin. This is my 29th year of teaching and i have never felt so unprepared for the first day of school. It has been a difficult week and haven't even started teaching. feeling very nervous and uncertain. Thank you for your great ideas during this unknown time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. For the feelings journal could you correct the word color to colour or make it a separate page for the American teachers? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

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