Something that most, if not all, teachers and school staff are thinking about as we enter into the 2021-2022 school year is: “How are our students doing, really?”
It’s been a hard year, and it shows empathy and compassion that you’re interested in your students’ emotional well-being.
A mental health check-in is a simple way to both build relationships with your students and to take some time to talk to them about their mental wellness. We’ve come up with 10 questions to explore issues of mental health; you can use these questions to connect with students and better understand how they are doing mentally and emotionally.
What Is a Mental Health Check-In?
Mental health check-ins are quick questions that you can use as a guide to ask your students about how they’re really feeling. Structuring a mental health check-in with your students into the schedule is a great way to make sure that you’re intentionally connecting with your students on that level — not to mention making sure that they’re getting their mental health needs met.
It’s important to note that a mental health check-in is not a replacement for mental health services. It’s more like a quick conversation that can give you some insight into how your students are feeling.
If you’re going to do a mental health check-in with your students, don’t ask students to reveal information about their mental health in front of the rest of the class. The best way to do these check-ins is either one-on-one or through a written survey.
Also, be prepared to follow-up with individual students. Further harm could be caused if a child opens up about a challenging experience, but does not get the follow-up support that they need.
You may want to consult with a school mental health professional if any of your students have given you answers that have made you feel concerned about their mental health.
Too often, mental health check-in exercises or posters don’t include a plan for what happens if your students are feeling suicidal or otherwise not doing well. If you are going to ask students to be open about their mental health problems, make sure you have a plan in place in the event of a mental health emergency. In other words, a check-in conversation is just the first step.
10 Mental Health Check-In Questions for Students
If you don’t know where to start with designing a mental health check-in for your students, here are 10 questions you can use.
- Breathe in and out, and notice the emotions that are inside of you. How are you feeling, really? How are you feeling in your body? How about your mind?
- In the past week, how often have you felt: sad, angry, happy, joyful, proud, etc.?
- How much emotional support do you feel you have at school? What about at home?
- What color is the best fit for how you feel today? Please explain why you chose this color so that I can understand.
- Draw me a picture of how you’ve been feeling this week.
- Who do you talk to when you’re not feeling your best?
- What’s the best thing that happened to you this week? What about the worst?
- How have you been sleeping lately? How have you been eating?
- What makes you feel excited and joyful these days?
- Would you like to have a private conversation with me or another adult at school about how you’re feeling?