One Simple Way to Promote Mental Health: Smile!

Brian FaulknerBlog, Engage Better, Lead Better

In This Post:

  • The necessity of addressing mental health in our schools.
  • One strategy to instantly improve our mental state.

I’m often asked what is one of the biggest challenges we are currently facing in education.  Narrowing it down to just one challenge is difficult, but our biggest challenge, in my opinion, is how to support the mental health and well-being of others.  As a teacher, my focus was on supporting my students, but as an administrator, my focus becomes more global. I’m thinking of the students. I’m thinking of the staff. The parents. I’m thinking of the entire learning community. 

Start simple by smiling more and smiling often. Click To Tweet

There are some simple strategies I try to incorporate with our staff and students.  I often feel that when we begin exploring and discussing how to support mental health, we believe there is this larger than life solution we need to find.  While there are bigger and better solutions out there, ones that may address more serious concerns, my focus on this writing piece is one small thing that fosters a feeling of belonging and being supported in our school.    

In this video, I talk about one small thing and how it has impacted our school culture: Smiling.

And yeah! Sometimes, it can be that simple!  Smile! It’s a proven antidote to depression, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.  Start simple by smiling more and smiling often. In fact, I’m smiling right now while writing this and I feel better.  

Although there is so much more to write in regards to supporting mental health, my intent is to provide a quick and easy strategy we can all implement immediately.  I’ll continue to post my thoughts on other ways we can support one another, which will include some larger initiatives.

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Being someone that has had his own struggles with mental health, I understand it goes far beyond just smiling. However, laughter and smiling has gotten me through some really difficult moments and has always been a staple in my life to relieve anxiety.

Thanks for reading. Keep smiling.


Brian Faulkner is the principal at Kaneland Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. My focus has been simple from the very start of my career; give students what they need in order to be successful. I fully embrace teacher leadership and a shared leadership philosophy and look for creative ways our staff can collaborate, share, observe one another, and continuously improve their craft. Saying I love what I do is an understatement. I’m on a mission to make a difference in the lives of each member of our learning community. #ProudtobeaKnight #kanelandpride