Addressing the Student Mental Health Emergency in the Wake of COVID-19
News reports, research studies, and data released during the second half of 2020 have all confirmed that the pandemic is taking a serious toll on children’s social, emotional, and mental health. New data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that from March through October 2020, the share of mental health-related hospital emergency department visits rose 24 percent for children ages 5 to 11 and 31 percent among adolescents ages 12 to 17, when compared to the same period in 2019.
What Can Schools Do to Support Student Mental Health
Mental health experts advise that even in the midst of the many challenges of teaching and learning during the pandemic, schools must identify approaches to address students’ social, emotional, and mental well-being. Children simply cannot learn when they are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. How can schools support students in remote learning and socially distanced classrooms? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but several expert-recommendations include:
- Ensure that educators are prepared to incorporate trauma informed practices into teaching and learning.
- Identify ways to strengthen and maintain connections among students and their peers and with supportive adults. Examples include providing telehealth counseling services, creating a student buddy network, and even building in time for daily “check-ins” with students where they can share their concerns.
- Implement a social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum or program.
- Coordinate with other agencies and community groups to address other basic needs, such as health problems, food insecurity, and housing instability.
How Vector Solutions Can Help
SafeSchools Training’s powerful, engaging Student Safety & Wellness Courses cover essential safety and wellness topics that are core to social-emotional learning and student mental health, including:
- Stress and Anxiety
- Youth Suicide Awareness
- Healthy Relationships
- Resolving Disagreements
- Digital Citizenship
- And more!
Courses are customized for grades 9-12 and 6-8, and each video-based course is broken into several 5-7 minute modules that feature diverse peer presenters, so students can more easily connect with each lesson. These flexible modules can be assigned individually or used in a facilitated group setting (in-person or online). The courses allow students to learn about topics they don’t normally talk about and help foster important discussions about these critical mental health issues.