Caring For Students’ Mental Health During COVID-19
During this global pandemic, many schools have made the switch to online learning amidst all the uncertainty. This shift to the online format has caused parents stress and concern. It has an impact on students as well. These challenges have caused students to develop some struggles with their mental health. It’s important for both parents and teachers to provide support and understanding for students to be heard and helped.
Learning how to identify and address mental illness is the first step to supporting a student’s needs. Read on to learn how to provide extra support and resources for a student during this challenging time and after.
Understanding COVID-19’s Impact On Children’s Mental Well-Being
- Covid-19 Impacted Students’ Mental Health and Well-Being
Compared to before the pandemic, a significant number of children have experienced more depression, anxiety and irritability. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) completed a study on this. CDC found that mental health care emergencies for children between the ages of 5-11 has increased by 24% from 2019. For children ages 12-17, emergency room visits have increased by 31% from 2019. Children have been less able to handle the daily frustrations compared to before COVID-19.
As children are unable to buffer these daily frustrations, they cry more easily and often. Unable to handle the disappointment, children become less motivated to participate in activities. They also develop a sense of loneliness, restlessness and boredom. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reveals that social isolation is more devastating to teens than any age group. Furthermore, teenage girls experience the most hardship.
2. When Students Are Mentally Unwell, It Impacts Learning
Learning is most effective for students when they feel safe and comfortable. Moreover, when students begin to suffer mentally, they can have difficulties retaining and processing the information they learn. Mental health challenges impact concentration and stamina as well as social interactions.
There is a prominent connection between mental health and learning. Important to realize, trauma can actually affect an individual’s ability to memorize details. It also impacts their ability to follow directions and complete tasks. Above all, it’s important for students to have access to mental health resources as they learn.
Mental Health Tips For Children
3. It’s Important to take care of mental health using these tips:
Healthy whole foods support and nourish the brain and body. In fact, they increase alertness and help students be more present to participate fully in learning.
The number of nightly sleep hours children get affects academic performance. Even a short reduction in sleep time—as little as 15 minutes—can negatively affect learning.
Exercise is an important part of childhood development. Helping children learn to explore, take risks, question, experiment, discover, and develop self-confidence by moving their bodies.
Being organized reduces stress in many areas of life. One of the simplest ways for students to get organized by using a school agenda or planner.
Writing using pen and paper can help students organize their thoughts and improve their moods. In fact, studies reveal that writing about being grateful before bed can help improve sleep.
Monitor Technology Time
Too much online time can impact children’s social development. After all, it can lead to social anxiety, and negatively affect sleep habits and attention span.
Encourage general wellness while learning. Take frequent breaks, sit upright, stretch, drink plenty of water, and monitor frustration. Be sure to ask for help when it’s needed!
4. Get help from these national youth focused mental health supports:
- NIMH » Child and Adolescent Mental Health (nih.gov)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Adolescent and School Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Suicide Prevention
- Listen Up! Youth Listening Session Toolkit (hhs.gov)
- Treatment Options | Youth.gov
- Mental Health Information | Mental Health America (mhanational.org)
- betterhelp.com – Private Online Counseling
- Mindfulness First – Social-Emotional Learning Programs
- Mental Health America Support Group & Forum – Inspire
- ADAA Online Support Group | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA
Taking the time to understand mental health is important during this time. As we all push back against COVID-19 hardships, take the steps to encourage mental well-being to those students around you.