How mental health coaching is making a true difference in schools

Mental health coaching for faculty and staff provides real-time feedback along with evidence-based interventions and strategies to support students.
Christina Jelly
Christina Jelly
Christina Jelly is the director of community outreach at Thrive Alliance Group, a nationally-recognized expert in fostering K–12 mental wellness.

Schools are burning through resources and teachers as the need to support students’ mental health issues continues to increase and become more complex.

School counselors and mental health professionals are the go-to staff for understanding mental health issues and are expected to provide effective interventions. As these mental health issues often impact a student’s performance in a school setting, these professionals play an integral part in ensuring student success. While the ratio of counselors to students is improving in schools, there’s still an increasing need for mental health professionals, especially at the elementary level.

Federal pandemic relief funding, allocated for specific purposes, allowed schools to hire more counselors and mental health support staff. However, due to labor shortages experienced by every industry, finding the appropriate people with the correct certifications and experience to support students’ mental health in a school setting still proves to be a challenge.

So what can educators do to assist in supporting the increase in mental health issues for students?

The answer is mental health coaching opportunities for faculty and staff. Coaching provides real-time feedback for current scenarios aligned with evidence-based interventions and strategies to support students. This understanding of mental health and the role it plays in a school setting is critical to ensure that interventions are effective and are implemented with the goal of academic progress in mind.

The shift that needs to occur is an emphasis on faculty and staff. Whether it’s educators, school counselors, administrators, etc., if they are healthy and supported, students in turn will be healthy and supported. If an educator is more effectively managing their mental health, they will be more effective at dealing with classroom management and difficult behaviors that arise.

Mental health coaching improves culture and climate

For schools with limited budgets or staff shortages, consider a mental health coaching program to support your staff in addressing your students’ mental health needs. Some of the benefits of coaching are:

  • Students thrive in a safe, supported environment geared toward growth and academic achievement. Create a community rooted in belonging and connectedness.
  • Increased staff morale through decreasing their stress levels and increasing their capabilities when managing challenging student scenarios. Invest in staff members with an interest or background in mental health who are motivated to help.
  • Ongoing coaching and training provides school staff with the tools, strategies and confidence to improve the school’s culture and climate. Investing in a mental health coaching program widens the bandwidth for support, lessening the pressure on students, staff and even the school budget.

The U.S. Department of Education encourages schools to build staff mental health capacity. Coaching programs directed by experts and embedded within a school draw on knowledge of the school’s context, demands and constraints. This specialized coaching practice personalizes the mental health supports specific to each school.

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For schools with budget limits or staff shortages, coaching allows for the skills and expertise needed to support your mental health initiatives. Trained staff ready to manage challenging situations are essential to building a climate of mental health wellness in your school community.

Elevating school culture is not something that happens overnight. However, investing in your staff by providing them with an effective mental health coaching program in school creates a pathway for renewal.

Eventually, mental health issues and teacher and staff burnout begin to resolve. Out-of-district placements decline, relieving budgets. Ultimately, schools are free to get back to the business of education—students learning and achieving academically, socially and emotionally.

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