5 Ways to Help Students with Depression

5 Ways to Help Students with Depression

Depression is a serious illness that affects all of us regardless of age. You can encounter depressed individuals almost anywhere, and it’s a given that it’s present even in classrooms. Of course, just because we see depression in various places doesn’t mean we know how to deal with it. As a teacher, it’s your job to teach and to help your students in any way you can. If you notice someone’s dealing with depression, as a responsible teacher, you’ll need to step up and help them get on the path of healing.

1. Don’t let other’s opinions influence you

At the beginning of the school year, when you get a new class, other teachers may warn you about a particular student that’s a little bit different. They may even tell you stories and convince you that this student is a certain way. Even though you should listen to them, you shouldn’t take this advice to heart. It’s best to keep this information in mind but not to let it influence your opinion of the student.

You have to realize that there’s probably a deeper reason for their behaviour, and letting your colleagues decide how you treat your student can only lead to more misunderstanding. Keep an open mind and try to understand where the behaviour is coming from. It’s most likely that the student is depressed or has some other emotional issues that they need help with. If you don’t open your eyes to this, neither will your colleagues.

2. Encourage positive behaviour

You have to understand that depression doesn’t make the child. Aside from suffering from it, they have other traits. They may also be a kind and genuine person, intelligent, funny, or anything in between. Notice these traits as well as the bad ones. When they do well in school, don’t let it slide without an encouraging comment.

Show them that they have positive characteristics and that their effort and good behaviour doesn’t go unrewarded. One of the factors that are definitely contributing to their depression is the idea of their own insignificance. So, start by trying to demonstrate to them that this is not the case. By showing that you care about their actions, reactions and behaviour, you’re giving them a sense of their own significance, which is incredibly important in order to make them feel better about themselves.

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3. Expect disorganization

Children with depression and other emotional issues are naturally going to be more disorganized and forgetful. Not only do you have to understand this behaviour, but you also need to expect it. Setting your expectation in such respect avoids a lot of frustration on both parts. The main point is that the student wants to do well in school, but that schoolwork isn’t and can’t be a priority to them.

Instead of criticising and nagging them every time they forget or misplace something, help them think through the problem. The chances are that they’re already blaming themselves, and finding a way to constructively deal with the situation will diminish the negative feelings they have towards themselves. You’ll show them they’re component enough to solve the problem even when they didn’t think so.

It’s also quite important that you explain to them the importance of setting up a healthy routine. By giving them something to do, you’re helping them take their minds off at least from some things that are bothering them, which, on its own may be of help. Also, by setting up a steady routine, you’re helping them take back the control over their own life, which is also a quite important step.

4. Talk to a professional

No matter how much you want to help, it’s time to face the music- you’re a teacher not a professional. There’s no way for you to know all the necessary information you need to heal someone. Instead, you can simply bring them back on the right path. Talking to a professional and taking  behaviour management courses can help both you and the student.

You’ll familiarize yourself with the illness and they’ll see they’re not the only ones who suffer from it. These courses can teach both of you how to nurture positive behaviours and make beating depression much easier. It’s also incredibly important that you show them that you understand what they’re going through. Depression is a mental disorder, not a current mood or a mindset and the lack of awareness and understanding on this topic may only make the matters worse.

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5. Give longer deadlines to the whole class

Schoolwork is often overwhelming to a depressed student. They want to succeed and obey the deadlines, but they just can’t. Still, you can’t just give them an extension of a deadline because that would make them a target among the other kids. It will seem like you’re playing favourites instead of helping someone who needs it. After all, kids don’t really understand the severity of the situation.

That’s why it’s a good idea to extend the deadline for the whole class. Instead of giving homework for tomorrow, make it for three days from now. This will give all of the kids enough time to complete their work without drawing attention to the one that needs it most. You won’t be putting pressure on anyone in the class, which is bound to give you better results. Keep in mind, however, not to push this too far, especially due to the fact that there’s this thing known as Parkinson’s law. It states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion, which means that the more time you give them, the more it will take them to actually do the assignment.

Conclusion

Just because a student is suffering from depression doesn’t mean they’re hopeless. With some help, they can soon be on their way to recovery and more stable mental health. It all depends on you and how you approach the subject. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and you’ll always wonder if there was something you could do to help. There is, and every little step counts no matter how insignificant it may seem.

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