Best Practices to Support Mental Health for Children and Youth… Toxic and Tolerable Stress: Developing Healthy Coping Strategies
Part 4 of a 4 Part Series
Submitted by: Stacey Hannay, HPEC Comprehensive School Health
The future of any society depends on its ability to foster the healthy development of the next generation and our classrooms can be this perfect storm. As teachers we often hear children/students in the halls echo “I am so stressed out”, or “I am freaking out”, which can be some of the telltale signs, however, approximately 1 in 5 Canadian children are affected by a mental health issue, stress being top of that list, and sometimes going completely unnoticed.
Extensive research on the biology of stress now shows that healthy development can be derailed by excessive or prolonged activation of stress response systems in the body and brain. Such toxic stress can have damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan. So what is a teacher to do? As caregivers to our students for a large portion of their developmental years what resources best fit the bill?
As the final succession of our four part series, we will open up the notion of ‘confidence’ in teaching, exploring factors that contribute to mental health and wellness; the journey into being a student’s greatest mental health asset. This series will walk teachers through the use of strategies that promote mental health and wellness, starting with the different types of stress and how some stress can be helpful in building children’s/student’s resiliency and future success.
As we close this series, I would like to thank Priscilla Asamoah (MEd, RPC) from Alberta Health Services (AHS) in our rich discussions on “best practices” for teachers’ in their passage to unpacking and supporting mental health for students. Should you wish to delve deeper into some of the other comprehensive school health topics covered in AHS’s caregiver series, I would strongly encourage you to checkout their Mental Health Literacy Series.
Harvard Center for the Developing Child (2017):
Teen Mental Health:
Mental Health Literacy Series: https://www.cyfcaregivereducation.ca/videos
Toxic and Tolerable Stress: Developing Healthy Coping Strategies