Student Mental Health Post-Pandemic
At no other time in history have schools had to face so many challenges. The COVID-9 pandemic required teachers, students, and faculty to quickly pivot and move classes to an online environment during times of great uncertainty.
Despite the work involved to keep education going, students of all ages have still been significantly impacted by the stress of lockdowns, quarantines, and unknowns. Many students are dealing with mental health challenges as a result.
A recent study looked at 195 students at a large public university in the United States to understand the effects the pandemic has had on their mental health. The researchers found that 71% of the participants were experiencing increased stress and anxiety as well as depressive thoughts.
While many schools have opened back up, many students are still experiencing symptoms of trauma and mental health issues. This year, Children’s Hospital Colorado officials declared a “pediatric mental health state of emergency” due to the increased need for treatment for suicidal thoughts and attempts. There is a great need for our community to consider what we can do to prevent or help with this crisis.
What Can Teachers and Faculty Do?
It’s important that teachers and faculty become educated themselves on the indicators of a mental health crisis in their students. What is the best way to recognize those students who may be having issues and need extra support?
All educational institutions should put in place universal screenings to identify those students in need. These screenings may involve brief questionnaires to gauge student emotional concerns.
Schools should also be sure to have enough school-based mental health professionals on staff to provide direct support for at-risk individuals. Schools should have a list of referrals and knowledge of community support for students whose needs exceed beyond the school’s scope.
What Can Students Do?
Students should recognize their feelings and be open to sharing them with others. Reach out to teachers and staff and get the help you need.
Students can start to build resilience in the following ways:
- Find something to look forward to whether that be a hobby, a job, friends, or family. It can be something small or large that can increase hope.
- Get your body moving. It is an important time to be finding what this means for you whether that be dance, walking, a sport, a class, etc. Each person needs to find what fits best with their personality and skill level.
- Find a way to express your feelings when you are down. This can be through looking to people, journaling, praying, art, or anything that feels like it expresses. Many people go to self-harm because it realizes positive chemicals in the brain. This also is a much more temporary relief and finding others ways to release the same chemicals can provide more long-term relief.
- Create a routine. With all the unknowns and changes, having good sleep hygiene, morning routine, and other habits can create rhythms that body’s crave.
And if you are a student who would like to talk with someone about the stress and anxiety you are feeling, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. This is a very difficult time to be a teen and we would love to help.