Can classroom engagement and positive psychology help address anxiety among students?

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 14 March 2017.

Many teachers are reporting their concerns about a growing number of young people suffering from anxiety and/or depression. In the media too, claims of an ‘epidemic’ of a ‘mental health crisis’ among adolescents and young people have only added to this concern.

What can we do as teachers to ensure we are providing a safe and supportive classroom environment?

Here, we outline some practical strategies that teachers can employ in the classroom, based on ideas put forward by Beverley Myatt & Lynne Kennette. They are not the answer to the crisis, but they could make for a more positive and engaged classroom experience for all. Check out this infographic:

Not all of these strategies might appeal to you. You may even feel uncomfortable with some of them, but it might be worth identifying just one that you might try with your classes. Interestingly each of these strategies finds an echo in the motivation and engagement literature, because autonomy and a growth mindset are key elements in student engagement and motivation. So another upside might be you increase student engagement, and that’s a great thing.

For a more personal overview, click to hear me speak through these classroom-based strategies below:


Of course, attending to student’s mental health requires support beyond the classroom. There’s an exciting new model for campus mental health programs with around-the-clock availability coming out of our Canadian colleges. Students have commented about the revolutionised outreach and support services, saying “Thank you. This program saved my life”, and “the app has been very useful to me as it has enabled me to always have someone I could talk to without feeling like I’m being judged”.

If you have your own insights or practices to share around our students’ mental health, please contact  Learning and Teaching Services.