The problem is clear – students are stressed and suffering from poor mental health, and the statistics are worsening. Teachers and counselors are overwhelmed with student behavioral and emotional problems. Because of this, educators often find themselves reacting to student mental health crises instead of being proactive.
While we know the pandemic did not create our student mental health crisis, it certainly didn’t help matters. EAB recently published a report highlighting how educators are struggling more with student behavior amid COVID’s impact. It’s clear we need more comprehensive proactive mental health support systems for teachers and counselors in place. And we need them now!
The Impact of the Pandemic on Student Mental Health
In the 10 years leading up to the pandemic, we saw a 40% increase in mental health issues in K-12 students. Two years of sporadic isolation, disruption and deaths have only made the problem worse. The pandemic took lives, people lost jobs and children lost protectors. JAMA confirmed the devastation in its May 2022 collective global report.
Depression, suicide, violence and other mental health issues are rising among students, worrying parents, teachers and districts. All that, combined with typical adolescent difficulties has created a state of emergency for student mental health. The US Surgeon General confirmed this in his December 2021 report.
Check out our infographic below for more student mental health facts.
These facts have only compounded challenges around everyday learning. On top of everything teachers must manage, they are expected to monitor their students’ wellbeing and report troubling behaviors, moods and physical changes in their students to their administration heads and local authorities.
Observing and Reporting Changes to a Student’s Mental and Physical Health is a Challenge
This is especially true when you add the students’ digital interactions into the mix. Old-school teaching methods are out; digital is in and here to stay. Teachers now need to be tech-savvy and aware of social media trends. The rise in children’s use of social media has become the catalyst to an already growing child depression and suicide crisis.
To make matters worse, children as young as three use or have access to smartphones. In a European study across 19 countries, 80% of children aged 9-16 reported using a smartphone to go online daily. They learn how to navigate the internet from noticeably young ages, so good digital behaviors must be taught early on.
Teachers Often Have the Best Insight When Pupil’s Mental Health Shifts
Unfortunately, parents don’t spend as much time with their children as teachers do during the week. With children in school anywhere from 7-10 hours during the week, it can sometimes be easier for a teacher to notice even slight changes in a student.
To support schools and educators everywhere, we created a simple cheat sheet to help keep teachers and counselors on track.
Proactive Steps for Healthy Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom
These steps are short and sweet but could be the difference between life and death. Teachers are often better equipped to identify mental health issues but need great tools to support their efforts. Observation and reporting using one system that is accessible by other appropriate individuals, such as counselors and government agencies, will effectively help teachers provide better support to each student. Steps toward intervention are:
- Observe – behaviors, both digital and physical, as well as body language
- Report- report behaviors using a single-source method
- Monitor- the reports and behaviors daily to see anomalies or patterns
In today’s learning environment, observation includes digital behavior too. However, it is challenging to monitor what students search for – such as inappropriate subject matter or surfing their social media channels. So how can educators understand students’ digital behaviors?
The Tools You Need to Support Healthy Student Social and Emotional Learning in the Classroom
As digital learning in the classroom has become standard, students have unprecedented access to harmful content. Because of this, an effective web filtering software for your classrooms is needed.
A recent article in Tech & Learning by our CEO, Justin Reilly, defines the issues around students’ digital access and how to manage it both in school and outside of school. By combining offline and online tools like Impero Wellbeing and Impero ContentKeeper, districts can monitor their schools’ traffic – down to each student’s behavior.
How ContentKeeper Protects Student Mental Health and Wellbeing
ContentKeeper allows educators to drill down on specific, harmful keywords and search content. In addition, you can block sites while still allowing specific content to be viewed. For example, students can access a particular history video on YouTube while being blocked on the rest of the site.
How Wellbeing Protects Student Mental Health and Wellbeing
Wellbeing is the cherry on the cake! By adding this to ContentKeeper, educators can see documented offline trends for any student. For example, if a student exhibits physical signs of distress such as lack of engagement, weight loss, sleeping in class or worse, a teacher can document it quickly in Wellbeing.
Two Powerful Tools for Comprehensive Student Protection
Since ContentKeeper and Wellbeing work hand in hand, granular reports are generated with clear illustrations of the mental health status of a student. Proactive reporting processes make it possible to intercept suicides or violence before it’s too late. Together, we can improve the mental wellbeing of children.
Want to learn more about Wellbeing and ContentKeeper together? Book a demo to see us in action.
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