Physical Education is a key area to help bridge this divide with students. By highlighting the impact on their mental health while engaging in physical activity, students of all ages are able to understand that good physical health can promote good mental health.

Physical Activity

When your students are engaging in PE – drop in a few mental health phrases to keep them motivated while passing on new knowledge.

  1. “When you are active, you are releasing feel-good chemicals in your brain that promote good mental health.”
  2. “Just five minutes of movement can boost your mood.”
  3. “Activity can help alleviate mild-to-moderate depression.”
  4. “Activity can help reduce that test anxiety you may be having.”

Nutrition/Healthy Eating

Nutrition is another mind-body connection. Making healthy food choices and good mental health go hand in hand. When you make healthy food choices, you feel good both inside and out. In fact, some treatments for depression and mental health challenges include healthy eating.

Drop in some nutrition-minded statements during classes to help students develop this understanding.

  1. “Eating fruits and vegetables will improve your mental health too!”
  2. “Proper nutrition may be more effective at treating depression than medications.”
  3. “If you have been struggling with your mental health lately – pay attention to what you are eating.”

Sleep

Sleeping is another key to a holistically healthy lifestyle. REM sleep in particular helps to process our day’s activities and stabilize our mood and emotion. While we know that good sleep results in more energy and focus, students may not know that sleep can promote good mental health and maybe even prevent mental illness.

  1. “If you are feeling sluggish today – try going to bed earlier. Your body and mind will be more aware and focused.”
  2. “Sleep doesn’t only give you more energy – it can promote good mental health!”
  3. “8-10 hours of sleep a night will dramatically improve your physical and mental health.”

Creating a Culture of Good Mental Health

Lastly, mental health is just like physical health – you must create an inclusive culture that promotes and develops it. As educators you can take a leading role in making your school community a welcoming and supportive environment.

  1. “If you are ever struggling with anything mentally, I’m always available to chat.”
  2. “Everyone deserves good mental health, just like physical health.”

Working together we can create school communities that respect and support every student physically and mentally. Good mental health promotion is not simply a short lesson in health education – but a cultural investment to student well-being.

Learn more about how Erika’s Lighthouse can help in your classroom or school community at ErikasLighthouse.org.

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