Student Chloe Chan explores why talking to a teacher about your mental health could be a positive move.
You might be the person who cringes when you hear the quotation “listen to your parents, they’re always right!” because it just seems like they never are. If the intergenerational differences between you and your elders are stopping you from reaching out for support, try talking to a teacher! Many teachers relate to the struggles and difficulties that students go through because they themselves were once students too. Sometimes, you may feel better talking to a teacher rather than with your parents, because of a smaller intergenerational gap (depending on which teacher you choose to talk to). Knowing that they are also used to dealing with many students on a regular basis makes it easier to approach them.
Choosing the right teacher
Compared to your parents or peers, the fact that your teacher knows less about you might make it easier for you to open up about mental health and personal struggles. Nonetheless, you still want to choose a teacher that knows you, makes you feel comfortable talking to, and can easily relate to (from previous experience). Choosing to talk to a teacher who has taught you in the past can be beneficial, as he/she would have some background knowledge about your personality, which he/she can refer to when giving you recommendations and advice.
Believe in yourself
Opening up about your mental health can be hard – talking to your teacher about mental health might make this experience seem even more stressful and challenging. It’s important to remember that the likely reason you’ve chosen to talk to this teacher, as opposed to the many teachers or individuals you could have chosen to talk to, is because you have significant trust in this teacher. Therefore, trust your gut! Believe that the decision you’ve made is the right one and embrace it. Remember that seeking help is important and not a sign of weakness, and talking about your feelings can make you feel better.
You might be interested in: Coolminds, an online destination to help young people access mental health help
Don’t think of them as teachers
When it comes to actually talking to your teacher, try not to think of him/her as a teacher. Remember that your teacher is taking his/her own time to listen and talk to you. You can try thinking of your teacher as a stranger who doesn’t know you at all and therefore won’t judge you for anything that you say. Of course, your teacher is much more than a stranger and he/she cares about you and won’t judge you for whatever you say. However, the ‘stranger’ mindset can make it much easier for you to open up about sensitive issues like mental health.
Be proud of yourself
Opening up about mental health is not an easy thing to do, regardless of who you chose to talk to. Therefore, be proud of yourself for reaching out and talking to someone! If you feel uncertain, remember that communication is extremely important because keeping struggles and difficulties internal can cause individuals to make irrational decisions and have negative thoughts.
This article was adapted from a blogpost written by a young person for the Coolminds websites. Coolminds is a joint initiative between Mind HK and KELY Support Group and promotes mental health awareness, support and understanding in Hong Kong’s youth. By bringing international best practice to Hong Kong for high school and university students alike, Coolminds aims to provide comprehensive programmes for the prevention, early intervention and management of youth mental health. www.coolmindshk.com