Raquel Sánchez Nieto, Primary Spanish Coordinator at ELIS Murcia, recently participated in a significant event at Universidad Camilo José Cela focused on student mental health. Experts in education, psychology and psychiatry gathered to discuss the crucial role teachers play in their students’ mental wellbeing.

Pilar Ponce, President of the School Council of the Community of Madrid, emphasized that both teachers and parents are essential for students’ well-being. This was echoed during the presentation of the Mental Health Observatory in Schools by Aula Siena, where it was revealed that 60% of students have experienced a decline in their mental health in recent years.

Dr. Javier Urra, a renowned psychologist, described teachers as the “stethoscope of reality,” often being the first to suggest that children see a psychologist or psychiatrist. Teachers are keenly aware of their students’ behaviours, from noticing who is isolated on weekends to identifying those with self-harm indicators.

The survey results highlighted key factors affecting student mental health, such as family conflict (51%), excessive use of mobile phones and social media (47%), and peer conflict (45%). Platforms like TikTok (56%), Instagram (36%), and Twitch (34%) were identified as the most harmful for emotional development. Teachers also noted warning signs of potential mental health issues, including violent or defiant behaviour (48%), sudden drops in academic performance (48%), and lack of motivation or sadness (47%). Issues such as addiction to pornography (34%) and suicidal ideation (24%) were also common concerns.

Raquel Sánchez Nieto shared her experiences teaching primary school children, expressing surprise at how young students speak of “anxiety crises” and “depression.” She stressed the importance of adult awareness, as children quickly absorb the language they hear around them.

Carmen Sánchez, Dean of Education at Universidad Camilo José Cela, and Ricardo Muñoz, a geography teacher, underscored the need for better mental health training for teachers. They argued that while teachers are instrumental in knowledge dissemination, they must also address students’ emotional needs.

Psychiatrist Rosa Martínez and educator Pepa Domingo echoed these views, highlighting the critical role of schools in identifying and addressing mental health issues. Martínez noted that teachers are vital in detecting early warning signs and supporting therapeutic interventions, while Domingo emphasized the importance of forming strong bonds with students.

Raquel Sánchez Nieto’s contributions at this event underscore ELIS Murcia’s commitment to student wellbeing, reflecting the school’s dedication to supporting both the academic and emotional development of its pupils.