How Teachers Can Support Students Returning to School After a Mental Health Crisis & Hospitalization

There are many reasons why a child may undergo a mental health crisis hospitalization. From dealing with grief after a loved one’s death to severe anxiety, students often need extra help to manage their mental health. Afterward, it can be challenging to return to normal life.

Teachers can help students adjust after they return to school. Patience and a consistent structure can go a long way toward helping students feel normal again. By learning about what to expect, teachers can find ways to help their students.

What Teachers Should Know About a Mental Health Crisis Hospitalization

As students return to school from a mental health hospitalization, it is important for everyone to be realistic about their expectations. Even though the student has left the hospital, they are likely still experiencing some of the feelings and factors that originally led to their hospitalization.

Students may be hospitalized because of suicidal ideation or self-harm. They may experience a mental health crisis due to anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or another mental health condition. Often, the natural structure of a hospital environment helps to manage these conditions temporarily.

Once students return to school, it can be challenging to provide them with a sense of routine and structure. Students may be exposed to the same stressors that originally triggered the mental health crisis. Even when everyone does everything right, setbacks can prevent progress and must be dealt with patiently.

How to Prepare for and Care for Students Upon Their Return

The most important thing is to offer empathy and patience upon a student’s return from hospitalization. No one recovers from a mental health crisis overnight, so teachers can expect the student’s recovery to take time. Teachers can help students by providing them with a safe space.

To create a safe space, teachers should allow students to visit them at any time. If the teacher is unavailable, the student should have another teacher or staff member they can see as a backup option. Teachers should also touch base with the student at regular intervals.

Other than showing empathy, teachers can also help by communicating with parents and other staff members. Some staff members may be unfamiliar with mental health problems, which can impede their ability to help. By raising awareness and educating staff members, teachers can make the student’s transition a little easier.

There are privacy issues involved in talking to staff members, so teachers should only share need-to-know information. They should also talk to family members about information sharing. The student may also benefit from creating a 504 plan with the school for managing their mental illness.

Family members are a key part of the student’s recovery, so teachers can communicate with them as much as possible. They can alert loved ones if the student seems to be struggling again and ask for advice. In addition, teachers can help students access all the school’s mental health resources. 

Before the student returns to school, teachers can arrange a pre-return meeting with the parents. During the meeting, parents and teachers can discuss which assignments need to be done and when the student will officially return. If the student needs the school day shortened or other modifications, this meeting is a good opportunity to discuss potential changes.

Discover Mental Health Programs for Your Student

Many people deal with mental health crises at some point in their lifetime. In order to recover, it is important for you to get the help you need. A supportive community and mental health programs make a significant impact on an individual’s recovery.

By offering support for a variety of mental health services for youth, OC Specialty Health & Hospitals can help. To learn more about our services, you can call us today at 949-900-8600 (Aliso Ridge Behavioral Health) or 714-243-9000 (Anaheim Community Hospital).

Leave a Reply