Today, as we continue to trudge forward aamid a global pandemic, online learning continues for millions of children worldwide. The necessity of online learning during the pandemic has been apparent, but it may not be unusual even in the future.

 Learning virtually can provide students and their families with unique challenges. Instead of physically attending classes in school, where students can interact with their teachers and peers, they are relegated to the home. While teachers work hard to provide quality instruction, online learning has proven to be less than ideal for some learners. 


New Challenges for Teachers

In addition to their typical teaching duties, teachers may also be responsible for performing mental health checks for students. Checking in on students and assessing their mental well-being can be far more difficult online. It can be much harder for teachers to observe students’ behaviors and ask questions behind a computer screen. 

However, some teachers and counselors receive training on how to identify signs and symptoms of mental health troubles and provide advice. The depth of this instruction can vary depending on the school district, and some teachers may be better equipped with resources to help students. 

In the United States and other countries, there are some established frameworks for how teachers identify and handle students' mental health. There is a large population of students who are at risk for mental disorders. 

In some cases, students may come from families who are not equipped to manage mental illness. Thus, teachers can become some of the most influential people in students’ lives and may be uniquely situated to notice potential emerging mental health needs.

Mental Health Resources Within and Outside Schools

 During typical school years, students who require counseling for their mental health issues can usually speak with school counselors. However, during events that disrupt the school year, such as COVID-19, counseling services may be limited or eliminated altogether. This left some students without a way to receive treatment for any potential mental health needs.

For those students who are experiencing some mental health troubles but are in schools without adequate counseling services, it may be necessary to seek outside forms of therapy. Parents can help their children cope with issues in various ways, with costs ranging from free to more pricey. 

If families wish to first try therapy, reading articles written by mental health professionals may be helpful. There are many informative articles available online to help cope with issues and face mental troubles head-on. One of the best things about this approach is that it is free and can be accessed at any time, with access to the internet and a willingness to learn.

If reading through mental health articles and actions by parents are not enough to curb the progression of mental illness, therapy sessions may be the next step. Speaking with a mental health professional can be an enriching experience. 

In addition to traditional in-office therapy sessions, which can depend on access and price, websites can match prospective patients with qualified therapists at lower costs than in-office care. Virtual therapy options often provide quality care at a lower price. Additionally, the patient can speak with a therapist from the comfort of their home, which may be comforting for students. 

Students’ Mental Health Efforts Going Forward

 If teachers notice that a student is seemingly struggling with mental health issues, it may be wise for them to speak with the student or contact the parents or guardians of that student. 

Mental health status during childhood is critical and can help shape a student’s life far into the future. Providing students with the help they need, especially during tough times like the adjustment to online learning, is of the utmost importance. 

While therapy is not necessary for every student, it has indeed shown to be helpful for a large number of students with mental disorders. Ideally, teachers should be trained and compensated to look out for students and ensure their safety and not even a global pandemic can get in the way of their care and compassion. 

Teachers often provide a reassuring and unbiased adult figure outside of a student’s family who may be uniquely equipped to notice emerging mental health issues and intervene or seek help on the child’s behalf. The pressure and responsibility of teaching cannot be understated, and the more adults looking out for a child’s welfare, the better.