Our district is requiring all staff to go to mental health first aid training to help prepare them to deal with mental illness. Since the most common mental illnesses in elementary school are anxiety and depression, this is a resource I have available for my teachers. In Anxiety and Depression in the Classroom: A Teacher’s Guide to Fostering Self-Regulation in Young Students, Nadja Reilly explains the impact of anxiety and depression and other mental health issues in children. She provides suggestions to build resilience and teach self-regulation in order to help kids to succeed in school and beyond.
Self-regulation, fun, and play activities are natural ways to relieve stress and worry and recharge energy. Reilly discusses how to teach students deep-breathing exercises and various ways to understand their bodies. The book provides detailed instructions for educators who teach children in grades K-5. Reilly lists materials needed, gives step-by-step instructions, and offers variations to accommodate specific needs.
As Reilly explains, the teacher can encourage students to come up with funny or silly names for these sensations to make them less threatening. The class comes together to come up with ideas for decreasing these body sensations, such as deep breathing. The book also provides a chapter on communicating with parents to promote teacher-parent collaboration and assist families with kids who are struggling. For use both in the classroom and with parents of school-aged children, this is a book school counselors may want to purchase and loan out to teachers.