COVID-19 forced schools to suddenly turn to distance learning in order to finish the school year. Unfortunately, this sudden change also brought change to some students’ mental health. Students have lost social outlets as well as the learning environment they were accustomed to. Here are a few major concerns regarding mental health and distance learning as a result of the coronavirus shutdown.
Students suddenly had to re-learn how they learn, adapting to distance learning. In California, students have reported being much more stressed working from home than having to go to school. 17-year-old Madison Cordell said to the New York Times, ”I feel as if I can’t take a break or ‘turn off’ school. I’m up at 7 a.m. and doing some form of school work or studying until 7 p.m. I even take my flashcards down while I make lunch.” There is a feeling of lost structure, and students are suffering as a result. This stress and anxiety is a result of students not feeling in control of the situation, both in regards to school as well as to how the virus is impacting their lives.
Without the structure and face-to-face interaction with teachers, some students feel that it is difficult to focus on their studies. At home, there are distractions such as younger siblings or chores that need to be done. It can be difficult to create a quiet and calm workspace for students to learn.
Along with the added stressors, students are feeling the loss of their community. Students actually report missing school and wishing they could go back. Loneliness can quickly lead to higher suicides rates and is more common in adolescents. Younger students are greatly affected due to how essential social play is to their emotional and physical development. Students are known to do better in class when they have a best friend for encouragement and venting. The lack of social interaction can harm a student more than most realize.
Fears of Domestic Violence
Sadly, sometimes the only safe place for a student is the school. Victims of domestic violence are usually abused through having a loss of control and power. The mandatory lockdowns suddenly forced the victim to stay with the abuser, meaning they’re even more under their power. Due to the pandemic taking over medical facilities, victims may face difficulty finding help. Students are at a higher risk of abuse, and may not be able to find shelter with grandparents due to the fear of the virus.
There are ways for schools to support students’ mental health even when they’re learning from home. Screen monitoring software like LearnSafe ensures student safety — and can save lives. LearnSafe detects at-risk behavior and signs of abuse and depression. In one case, LearnSafe staff noted a student expressing intentions of self-harm. They quickly notified the school safety team, who were able to offer this student the help they needed. With LearnSafe, schools can protect their students’ mental health no matter where they’re learning.
Text by Kassie Roberts