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What we learned about student mental health from the pandemic

What we learned about student mental health from the pandemic

14th April 2021

As schools reopen, we are all asking the same question: are we ready?

The pandemic has flipped the ways teachers teach and students learn upside down. Schools have had to quickly adapt to continuously changing classroom environments, some teachers opened Microsoft Teams for the first time without any prior training, and remote learning became the new normal. But how did all that change affect the most vulnerable group inside the education system?

Let’s talk about students and what we learned about student mental health from the pandemic.

A survey of 2,000 students by the Office for National Statistics reported that 57% of students felt that their mental health worsened during the autumn 2020 term. BMJ, a global healthcare knowledge provider, identified a steep rise in depressive symptoms among children between the ages of 7 and 12 during lockdown. Their research also found out that, on average, there was around a 70% chance that depressive symptoms worsened for any child during lockdown. The Mental Health Foundation claims that some reasons behind the increase in problems of children’s mental stability during the pandemic have been caused by the public’s perception of the threat of the COVID-19 virus and the confusion imposed by this kind of public health crisis. Loneliness and the increased time spent on social media are also considered risk factors for the mental health and wellbeing of children.

We dove into social media platforms that are popular amongst students like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram to get a glimpse of what students are talking about with each other. Young adults are now more vocal regarding the challenges they face, discussing topics like bullying, depression, anxiety from going back in the classroom, and sexual harassment. Furthermore, with students spending increasingly more time on social media during lockdown, cyberbullying has risen by 70%. This leads us to believe schools need a strong monitoring system to make sure pupils are protected from dangerous and triggering content online.

As schools begin to transition back to in-person learning, many are taking the lessons they learned about remote learning with them. Here are a few lessons we learned about student mental health from the pandemic.

Relationships are at the core of keeping students mentally healthy and active during remote learning

The connection between students and teachers is vital for providing quality education and support.  This is more difficult in online learning but can be helped by scheduling regular one-to-one calls and using tools to monitor and improve student learning and progress.

Remote learning can make engagement particularly difficult, however, when learners do not turn their cameras on during online classes, it makes the lessons miserable.

While not every student’s environment allows them to turn on their cameras, the classroom can be significantly more engaging when students can see each other’s – and their teacher’s – faces.

Vladi Photo

This is Vladi, a student in 5th grade during his remote class

Meet Vladi, a student in 5th grade that has been learning mostly online since Covid-19 hit. Under normal circumstances, making homemade clay during class might be fun and messy, however, when he couldn’t share the experience with his classmates, Vladi felt lonely. He said he felt discouraged to turn on his camera as no one else was using theirs.

While some students excel during remote learning, others might fall behind

Some students prefer online learning because it provides them with a safer learning environment, ability to access classes from any location and has limited distractions. Some students might suffer from school anxiety or have sensory issues and enjoy having more control over their learning environment, making the online classroom a more desirable space. However, the majority of students do not perform well while learning remotely as they spend less time on their studies and their environment is filled with pets, siblings, parents, and other distractions.

The digital divide is growing, affecting education across the country

Students who live in poverty in the UK are less likely to do well in school and have on average lower educational achievement. With the pandemic, the digital divide has grown, making some students’ learning experiences extremely hard as they have limited or no access to the devices and internet connection needed for online classes.

Schools need the right software to support their students

Software that offers benefits like classroom management, web filtering or student online safety can help schools keep students on track, limit distractions and notice warning signs of mental or behavioural health decline before they become larger issues.

Impero’s cloud-based products are carefully designed to support teachers and provide students with additional safety, no matter the learning environment. Impero well:being equips schools with powerful keyword detection tools to capture, record and identify potential warning signs of mental health issues. Impero class:room allows teachers to provide personalised support and help students from falling behind on their classes.

To learn more, book a demonstration below.

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