Why Teachers and Professors Should Include Mental/Brain Health in the Syllabus

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A simple way to support the mental/ brain health of students is to include a brief statement on your course syllabus. This helps promote help-seeking behaviors and demonstrates that instructors care about student well-being. We gathered some examples of mental health statements in high school and college syllabi below. Feel free to take these and adapt them to your liking. 

Option 1: Validating mental/ brain health challenges as physical challenges

You can add the following paragraph to your syllabus:

“If you are having mental health issues which are interfering with your ability to function (in my course or otherwise) that’s a completely valid medical reason to ask for short term extensions or accommodations, just as you might for a physical illness or injury. So if your situation is hard or you feel hopeless, don’t hesitate to reach out, and I will try to work with you to minimize the impact mental health difficulties have on your performance in my class.”

Option 2: Offering local or school resources 

You can add the following paragraph to your syllabus:

“High school students often experience issues that may interfere with academic success such as stress, sleep problems, juggling responsibilities, life events, relationship concerns, or feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, or depression. If you or a friend is struggling, I strongly encourage you to seek support. Helpful, effective resources are available.

[List your school’s mental/ brain health resources or academic support]

If you are struggling with this class, please contact me at [your contact information].”

In General…

Making mental/ brain health a course policy, and clearly stating on the syllabus that you treat physical and mental health problems on equal footing may make it easier for students to come forward about their challenges, find help, and prevent unwanted stress, poor performance, or mental/ brain health crises. Students may need a little extra time or flexibility with assignments and deadlines when dealing with mental/ brain health challenges, just like they would for physical injuries and recovery. Validating mental/brain health in a syllabus is a small step, but hopefully it makes it that much easier for students to get help and do well in your class.


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