Managing Student Mental Health Challenges During COVID-19

Although the world is now beyond the one-year mark of the start of the global pandemic, many of the challenges that came along with it have barely cracked the surface. The stigma surrounding mental health has long made it a sensitive subject and not always a comfortable conversation but one great thing to emerge from this crisis has been a lift of that stigma. Specifically, in the school systems, parents, students, and educators have been able to ban together to create a safe space for struggling kids to open about their feelings and seek help.

Support and Resources

Initially telehealth was introduced out of necessity and the need for physical distance between doctors and patients. As a result, this virtual style of service and support has opened the door for all types of providers and patients to have access to each other for all types of reasons. Since the start of the pandemic depression has significantly increased in students of all grades and ages. Specifically, with college aged students, telehealth is an essential part of the solution since many of these students are living away from their known network of support.

The isolation, unknowns, and setbacks that college aged students experienced during the height of the pandemic have caused anxieties to spike leaving students feeling uncertain of how to cope with what remains now that the initial panic has subsided. Having a virtual resource on hand gives students a relatable way to seek help. It is no secret that this generation of students is arguably more tech savvy than any to come before it, so telehealth is a good fit regarding mental health support.

Develop a Routine

One of the biggest sacrifices that students had to make because of the pandemic was structure. Routines and schedules were totally abandoned, rearranged, and placed on hold while the world figured out how to cope. Unfortunately, one of the biggest keys to success as a student, is structure. School, even college, which is arguably laxer, provides an undeniable opportunity for structure in a students’ day-to-day.

The creation and maintenance of a routine can help students have a happier and more productive life and can aid with the effort to combat mental health challenges. Providing support for kids to develop their hobbies and interests in the absence of educational structure can help to keep their minds active and engaged in positive activities that facilitate joy and purpose. It is helpful for students to understand that these routines can and will be unique to them and that what does and does not work for a peer is not an indicator of what will or will not work for them.

Speak Their Language

Regardless of how young or old a student is or which stage of education they are at, engaging in conversation that is age appropriate is a great way to increase retention. Having a toolkit on hand for tough conversations ensures that you as a mentor are always prepared to offer help and support.  Relatability is a common complaint that college aged students specifically have regarding their support networks. Many kids view adults in an authoritative light so making the effort to highlight that you can be authoritative and still accessible opens the door for students to divulge their feelings on a level they feel comfortable.

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