Although most children who are newcomers are resilient and do not develop patterns of emotional distress, some will require additional support because of migration stress, problems with adjustment or the experience of trauma. Educators are in a good position to notice when a student is struggling and to provide caring support in the classroom.
What to do if you’re concerned a student is struggling to adjust
Remember, it’s not your role to diagnose mental health issues. When you notice and document your observations, you can help students to get the support they need.
When to take action
The student’s struggles are affecting their day-to-day functioning.
The signs of difficulty seem severe or prolonged.
The student or their family has expressed concern.
What to do
Follow your school board’s protocol for accessing mental health support. This may include
consulting with your principal, vice-principal or member of your school’s mental health leadership team
discussing your observations with the student and/or their parent/guardian
a referral for professional mental health support from school board personnel (e.g., school social worker or school psychologist)
a referral for professional mental health support within the community
You are a critical part of the support process because you help with early identification. You will remain part of the student’s circle of support as they move to, through, and from professional mental health services.
Take care of yourself
It’s essential that you take care of yourself too – for your well-being, and so you’re better able to support the students you serve. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings and try basic self-care strategies . Learn to recognize when you need additional support. Help is available for you through your employee assistance program.
We will continue to expand our resources based on input. Please send us your ideas for topics to cover so we can meet your professional learning needs.
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Need help now?
We don’t provide mental health advice, counselling or treatment. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department. You can also reach out to Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.