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 Grade 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 heart on their sleeve, 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 students' 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
Click here to get a free printable 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 it has 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 Offer

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

Make the mental health of your students a priority today! Grab the two 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."

You'll also find some great ideas and resources on this Pinterest board:


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

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