Being a vigilant teacher – Spotting depression in young students

One thing we as teachers deal with on a day to day basis is people. We might often forget that there is a human connection element to what we do. We see the same people on a regular basis and we become part of their routine.

Some teachers prefer to keep themselves very formal. Personally, I like to get to know my students on a personal level. I find that our lessons are more relaxed, and it encourages the student to open up more about various topics (related to the lesson and not). While this could be viewed as counterproductive to ‘the lesson’, I feel that it adds value to the process. The students become our friends and we become their ear to listen to them.

When you see people on a regular basis you learn a lot about their personality, their habits and their general traits. This puts us in a position to start to spot anything that could be amiss.

In 2019, depression and mental health issues are on the rise. I think we as teachers should be on the frontline to spot these issues with our students. We are certainly not doctors or experts in this field, but I think with a little understanding we can provide a great support network to students that need it. This all starts with spotting the signs. As a private teacher, I think it is worth becoming acquainted with the tell-tale signals of depression.

I recommend that you check out this fantastic resource written by James Banfield of the Liberated Mind. James is a life coach and psychotherapist with many years of expertise in this field.

Familiarise yourself with these signs and always allow your students to see you as a pillar of support. Students come to you to learn from you, but they stay because of the value you bring to their lives. We aren’t just providing a service; we’re providing a support network. Many teachers that work out of schools will already be familiar with this and may often have students speaking to them about issues close to home. As private teachers, there is no reason we cannot make our sessions more personal and allow students to feel supported by us.

Be mindful with younger students, mental health issues are increasingly common in younger people. If you spot the signs in any of your students, speak to the parents of the students and address your concerns. This is a sensitive topic so when bringing this up with parents, you should be certain of your reasons for concern. We can make a different with a little support.

Leigh Fuge, MGR Music