Coping with COVID-19 related stress while distance learning is difficult as students and teachers balance being at home with being in school. Lack of motivation, pandemic-related anxiety, and social distancing may deter engagement in online classrooms. While the same in person resources may not be available, there are various things faculty and administrators can do to monitor and ensure the mental wellness of their staff and students during COVID-19.
Role of Administrators:
Decisions and policies made at the administrative level have a huge impact on the overall school experiences of students, faculty members, and administrators themselves. Providing mental health services for online students as well as teachers is essential, especially at times like this when stress and anxiety is high. Resources include contact information of a counselor or teacher who will be available live for assistance is also essential.
The demand for mental health services integration in colleges and universities is spiking. Here are some steps school administrators should take to ensure the mental wellness of their students and teachers:
- Online Support Groups: Students feeling distressed but don’t know who to talk to, will find it easy to express themselves in online support groups. Schools can provide access to these online support groups or create their own support group that maintains anonymity. These support groups should be accessible to teachers as well.
- Evaluation: Less motivated students or those who don’t have stable home study environments and less computer confidence tend be stressed who eventually drop out of the school. Administrators can provide self-evaluation tools to find out the readiness of such students for virtual learning.
- Self-directed learning for teachers: Teachers should be provided with self-directed personal development opportunities in order for them to learn the “technology know how” and strategies to develop effective online learning courses.
- Crisis Services: Helpline and contact numbers that connect students as well as teachers to live assistance can be displayed on the websites. Regular alerts or reminders regarding services can be included in newsletters, on home pages, or in course syllabi. This will let students know they are not alone and they can reach out for help easily.
- Online Counseling Services: Provide links to the online counseling center of the campus and share infographics about what help services they provide. A to and fro feedback channels must be set up to ensure that students and the teachers who make inquiries for services receive a personalized response.
- Awareness: Lack of mental health awareness will affect the retention of online students and instructors which is a huge priority concern for administrators. By introducing initiatives like online webinar related to mental health problems and links to articles to common mental problems, we can inform the faculty and students about the importance of getting treatment.
While it’s important for teachers and administrators to be on the lookout for things that may indicate poor mental health, it’s ultimately up to students to ensure they’re maintaining mental wellness. Initiatives and policies that best serve mental well-being need to be formulated at the administrative level. Without supportive and interactive online classrooms, students and teachers are more likely to feel stressed and anxious.