Well-being and safety issues span a range of cognitive, emotional, psychological and physical aspects. Thus, they are complex and can present in a myriad of contexts and forms. As the demands of society increase and the pressures on young people mount, too, an increasing number of students are struggling with well-being and wellness issues. While these issues can, and do, manifest themselves at home, these struggles also often play out in our classrooms and schools.
Teachers and parents share a desire to provide students with the opportunities and strategies to build qualities such as resilience and perseverance. Teachers do care, and are responsible for the general well-being of their students. And, while they go to great lengths and effort to help them, it is also important to underscore the fact that teachers are not clinically trained to recognize, diagnose or treat the complex array of health conditions or illnesses with which some students may be dealing.
While teachers and educators play such a prominent role for an extended period of students’ lives, sometimes societal, systemic and parental expectations of what teachers can and should do to address these issues both exceed reasonable limits and move beyond the purview of their role and training. In effect, teachers need the support not only of parents but the assistance of those health professionals better placed – and trained – to support the young people who are in their care.