Why is Emotional Health and Well-being Important in Schools?
2021: Update on latest PSHE changes
A school/college that promotes positive, emotional health in children and young people will help them learn to understand and express their feelings, build their confidence and emotional resilience and therefore their capacity to learn. Schools have a direct influence on the emotional health of their pupils and staff so are best placed to introduce simple effective coping strategies.
Our hope is that the information on this website will also be useful to school and college governing bodies, school nurses, local public health teams, academy chains and others whose role it is to promote the health and well-being of children and learners.
Data from 2015:
In an average class of 30 15-year-old pupils:
- three could have a mental disorder
- ten are likely to have witnessed their parents separate
- one could have experienced the death of a parent
- seven are likely to have been bullied
- six may be self-harming
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advises that primary schools and secondary schools should be supported to adopt a comprehensive, ‘whole school’ approach to promoting the social and emotional well-being of children and young people.iv,v Such an approach moves beyond learning and teaching to pervade all aspects of the life of a school, and has been found to be effective in bringing about and sustaining health benefits.
Weblink: Promoting Children and Young People's Emotional Health and Wellbeing
It’s well documented that “stuck” emotions can manifest into problems such as, low self-esteem, truancy, disruptive behaviour, learning difficulties etc. Factors in and out of school influence our emotions and consequently, our behaviour. Specific risks to our emotional health and well-being arise from the extent to which we are operating under pressure. This includes our ability to influence situations we find difficult, our environment, the current state of our relationships or our health, to name a few. Staff and pupils find it hard to be effective when they are anxious, depressed or afraid.
Emotions impact on everything that happens in the classroom because emotional responses are neurologically linked to long-term memory and information processing. In extreme situations, emotional responses can sabotage the ability to rationalise and can lead to conflict and danger. All learning involves an element of risk taking; where staff and pupils do not feel emotionally secure and valued they will be less confident to take risks, and learning will be impeded. Equally, dealing with behaviour can sometimes cause staff to react emotionally, especially when the behaviour is repeated consistently over time. Staff who are secure with their personal feelings and perceptions are best placed to develop effective strategies for dealing with potentially confrontational
Whether the problems are in their personal life or in the classroom, staff can help to reinforce positive behaviours such as tolerance, respect, empathy and self-awareness. Teachers have a key modelling role in demonstrating resilience in the face of difficulties. Example: How do you as a teacher deal with your feelings of frustration at not meeting deadlines or how do you handle confrontation?
Feedback from pupils as to what contributes to positive emotional health has included…. feeling safe; having someone to talk to; being praised; feeling positive and confident; being able to contribute; enjoyment from achieving.
What contributes to poor emotional health?
Family factors: abuse, neglect, alcoholism, divorce, criminal activity, pressure by parent(s) to achieve, death.
Social factors: poverty, housing, discrimination, peer/gang pressure, isolation
Personal factors: low intelligence (including emotional) drug dependency, physical illness, deafness, congenital problems, disability.
- Learning or behavioural difficulties
- Test or performance anxiety
- Thumb-sucking/hair pulling
- Eating disorders
- Anger issues
The earliest roots of Emotional intelligence goes back to Charles Darwin and since Emotional intelligence (EQ) is as important, if not more important than IQ., Emotional Intelligence involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one’s thinking and actions. According to Daniel Goleman PhD, it involves abilities that may be categorized as follows:
Observing an emotion as it happens; realizing the prior ideas and conceptions that underlies an emotional response; being open to intuitive insights; emotional honesty – a developed sense of integrity and authenticity.
- Emotional maturity:
Facing up to fears and anxieties, anger, sadness and discontent and expressing that energy constructively, whilst retaining spontaneity.
Channeling emotional energy in the service of a goal; openness to new ideas; the ability to find breakthrough solutions and to make sound decisions; resilient optimism based on competence; sense of responsibility and personal power to get things done in accordance with what is needed and wanted.
- Empathic understanding:
Sensitivity to others’ feelings and concerns and willingness to respect their perspective; valuing the differences in how people feel about things; the capacity to trust and be trusted, to forgive and be forgiven.
- Quality communication:
Managing emotions in others through communication based on empathy and understanding, to build mututal trust; social skills, including constructive handling of disagreements and the ability to create and sustain friendships; leadership effectiveness.
- equipped to manage strong feelings such as frustration, anger and anxiety;
- effective and successful learners;
- engage more easily, therefore being able to create and maintain friendships
- able to resolve conflict effectively and fairly;
- believe in their abilities and understand how limiting beliefs can hold them back
- able to work as part of a team
- recover from setbacks and difficulties
- compete fairly and lose with dignity and respect for competitors;
- recognise and stand up for one’s own rights and the rights of others;
- respect and value the differences between people and respect the right of others to have beliefs and values different to their own
- increased staff morale
- fewer sick absences
- positive working climate
- raising of self esteem
- ability to express their opinion without fear of recrimination
- able to give and receive constructive feedback
- become better leaders and innovators