School talks focusses on mental health awareness in the education environment. In school environments, educators are more and more faced with higher demands placed on them with an ever growing learner population. The growing learner population, places pressure on the school system and often class sizes can consist of up to 40 learners (in some schools, even more learners per class).
This, together with an inclusive educational system, can lead to educators becoming overwhelmed both with the work load and emotional strains which accompany the profession.
Educators are often the first to identify learners who struggle with emotional and behavioural difficulties. They are the ones that understand the impact of possible emotional, behavioural and social challenges of students on their potential to learn and achievement academically. When educators become overwhelmed and even burned out, their vigilance in identifying learning and other emotional difficulties, are at risk. Thus, leaving psychological difficulties of learners to go undetected.
Keeping the above mentioned in mind, the ever changing environment children function in today, make the task of early detection and intervention ever more difficult. Educators are faced with children that function seldomly in traditional households but more often in reconstructed families, who grow up without biological parents or caregivers that are often older siblings.
When a potential cognitive, emotional, behavioral or social concern or difficulty is noted in a child, this should be brought under the parent/s or legal guardian/s attention in order to seek the necessary professional assistance. However, this line of reporting can often include its own challenges given the nature of the family setup. Another challenge educators face, apart from growing class sizes and the line of reporting of concerns, is the impact of technology. The inclusion of technology is radically impacting our school environment where teachers are pushed to different forms of educational mediums – beneficial for some learner but more strenuous on others. These factors forces teachers to not only be creative and flexible but also to be excellent problem solvers.
It is clear form what is mentioned so far, that educators play a vital role in the early detection of possible psychological difficulties in a child. It is therefore of utmost importance that educators, tutors, caregivers and all parties that are involved in the education and raising of children are equipped with knowledge and the necessary support. This will assist educators to remain vigilant in identifying early signs and symptoms of developmental challenges and/ or mental illness in children.
Educational talks offers the opportunity not only to educators, parents and legal guardians but also to learners to be knowledgeable about neurological and mental health. These talks can assist with knowledge about various contemporary challenges faced in the school environment and how to recognize early symptoms that may warren the assistance of a health care professional. Topics may include: self-care and responsibility for one’s own mental health and wellness, mental health as an integral part of health, understanding mental illness, neurodevelopmental difficulties, self-harm and suicide among children, substance use and dependency, bullying and teen pregnancy (to name a few).
Like the famous English expression read: “Knowledge is power”, it is my belief that by understanding and talking about contemporary issues, we gain more skill in fully assisting every learners needs.
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