Mental Health and Back to School in a Pandemic

Confinement and lack of socialization can have severe consequences for the mental health of students, according to a recent report from the Laboratory of Economics of Education of the Javeriana University (LEE). This investigation includes recommendations to guarantee better conditions for the educational community in the midst of the pandemic. The researchers argue that it is important for institutions to develop mechanisms to assess the mental and emotional health of their students, teachers, and administrative staff. This would help identify those members of the educational community affected by the period of mandatory confinement and the stress associated with this health crisis. Therefore, the schools must provide support and attention to those who most require it. 

However, the report admits that it will not be an easy task, especially if one takes into account that many activities of the welfare departments, such as sports and cultural activities, cannot be carried out if what is sought to prioritize is to avoid the contagion of covid-19. In this way, alternatives are proposed to maintain the sense of community. The investigation states that, “given that many students, teachers, and administrators feel anxious and isolated by the current situation, they could organize social events using online platforms such as Webex or Teams to participate in different activities, like coffee breaks, lunches, happy hours, cooking and crafts classes, talent shows, among many others.”

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Another important aspect to work on is the attitude with which the academic community individually assumes isolation as well as virtual, remote, and distance education, a model that could be expanded during the next semester, while the situation is controlled.

An effort is required from teachers and students to change their mentality, behavior, and also improve their readiness to adapt to change; so that everyone has more motivation and a better attitude when studying at home. For this, you can work with the entire educational community by sending messages and advice, among others, through emails and social networks.

The LEE declares that the creation of social ties is of vital importance despite the distance. At this point, the investigators assure that there should exist cooperation networks between teachers and students that allow maintaining interaction between them in periods of mandatory preventive isolation or remote classroom contexts, creating strategies to strengthen the involvement of students in academic activities, the development of academic counseling, creation of tutorials, and peer leveling programs, among others. It’s a time of struggle for everyone and we should mutually check on our friends and loved ones mental health, we need to help each other stay afloat during this situation.