Much of society is struggling to recover from the ongoing pandemic's lasting emotional and mental health effects. Students especially are facing difficulties coming back to school after time off or taking classes online. As a teacher, being equipped with the proper resources can make all the difference for your students. Here's how to help your students overcome post-COVID anxiety.
With the pandemic disrupting student's normal routines, it's harder for teachers to detect unusual behavior in students. Given this, teachers should regularly check in with students to see how they're acclimating to the changes around them and make sure their individual voices are heard. One-on-one meetings with your students can give them a chance to express any concerns they may not have felt comfortable sharing publicly, and can give you a chance to look for any clues or indication that the student could use some help.
Screening students is an effective strategy that works for students ranging from elementary school through high school. According to the American Psychological Association, students are screened using either written or online tests which gauge a student's mental state and help to identify at-risk students. It offers a series of questions designed to provide insight into the severity of each student's emotional concerns, and can detect symptoms of anxiety and depression once analyzed by school professionals such as counselors or psychologists.
Encourage your students to express their concerns by providing an inclusive and comfortable environment for them to open up in. Let them know that they're going through a difficult situation and doing the best they can. It's important for the student to know it's normal to feel whatever emotions they're feeling. By giving students the opportunity to express their emotions and stressors with a teacher, they'll know they have somebody on their side to help and support them during this period of uncertainty.
As a teacher, students may come to you not knowing how to move forward. Their anxieties have been heightened due to the temporary, constantly changing environments around them and they may be afraid to open up socially with students or feel overwhelmed by all the changes they've endured during the past year. Encourage students in a positive and productive way by guiding them on how to handle their emotions for themselves. By reassuring students and offering suggestions on how to acclimate and get re-adjusted with their peers, they'll feel more confident and motivated to push past those anxieties.
Keeping connected with parents/guardians let's you inform them of anything unusual you've noticed, and gives you the chance to offer advice for helping the student at home. By talking with them, you may gain a deeper understanding of what is going on in that student's life and learn what to look out for as unusual behavior going forward. By having a conversation with the parents/guardians, you can help the family understand how the student is interacting with their peers and handling their post-COVID anxiety in school.
As the pandemic continues to cause uncertainty in everyone's lives, students are enduring an extremely challenging transition which can cause post-COVID anxiety. As an educator, it's important to have the right tools so you can provide support to students in need. For more blog posts and resources on student health, visit Wellspring Center for Prevention.