The year 2020 certainly took its toll on the mental health of many. Experts have predicted that the psychological and emotional impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could last for years to come.
The education system was particularly affected by the pandemic. Students and teachers have scrambled to adjust to virtual classrooms, video conferencing and online learning. Compounding the stress of this learning curve is the removal of the many social outlets and benefits that an in-person learning environment provides.
As the world continues to adjust to a new way of learning and living, it is important that educators support the mental and emotional development of their students as well as their academic development. Here are five ways that teachers can support student mental health and well being during this time.
- Validate emotions. Express compassion for your students’ situations and emotions. Acknowledge that it is normal and natural for them to be feeling the way they are.
- Ask questions. Don’t assume you know what your student is feeling or that you have all the answers. Ask questions based out of curiosity and not out of a desire to prove a point or justify your own position.
- Offer support but don’t force it. You can’t make anyone change or accept your help. Let your student know that you are there to support them but don’t try to force solutions on them. Refer them to professional resources if applicable and appropriate.
- Incorporate mental health lessons into your curriculum. Normalize the discussion of mental health by introducing related topics in your lessons.
- Introduce journaling. Studies have shown that even 10 minutes of journaling daily can have an enormous impact on mental and emotional health. By incorporating journaling prompts and activities into your lessons, you will give students the opportunity to safely express themselves.