Assistant Principal's blog

Building positive mental health and resilience in adolescents

George Massouris - Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Building positive mental health and resilience in adolescents

What does it mean to have positive mental health? 

There are many definitions of mental health – they are all slightly different but one thing they have in common is an emphasis on resilience, meaning your ability to bounce back from disruptions in your life and progress towards your goals.
The transition from childhood to young adulthood occurs over a relatively short period of time and the rapid changes in physical, psychological and social development present both opportunities and challenges. Students who are more resilient are better able to manage the challenges –resilience over the longer term is associated with fewer mental health difficulties and greater life opportunities.

Schools are places where young people spend a great deal of their time, and they play a key role in the development of students’ resilience

Research shows that creating safe and supportive environments increases student engagement and attachment to school, and that these can significantly influence student academic performance. Schools that take a strategic approach to improving mental health can experience other benefits like improved academic performance, and reductions in behavioural issues.

Resilience is critical to positive mental health and schools are well-placed to support young people 
The ability to process both positive and negative experiences and emotions is central to developing resilience.  

Recent research has shown that some stress is helpful in building resilience, especially in learning to manage later stress, whereas an overload of stress is extremely detrimental. Children and young people are continually having to manage difficulties. Many of these difficulties can occur in the school environment, such as friendship upsets, exam results and online pressures. As long as the ruptures are not too catastrophic and the repairs are quick and good enough, these difficulties can lead to resilience.  

Resilience is not a trait that we are born with or automatically remains once it is achieved. A person’s capacity for resilience is a result of their genes, and their environment. These include a young person’s family, friends, school and the wider community. 

 

George Massouris

Assistant Principal

 

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