Strategies for Maintaining Mental Health During Online Learning

Anna Hoffmann, Writer

In the age of COVID-19, online learning is necessary, but certainly not ideal. Students have transitioned from their classrooms to dining room tables and bedroom desks in order to participate in clubs, attend class, and complete their homework. In an environment chock full of distractions, they often find themselves grappling with the looming threat of technological issues. For both teachers and students, one of the most disheartening shortfalls of online school is the lack of real-life interaction with others. Inevitably, this has taken a toll on the mental health of students.

There is not much we can do to combat COVID-19 besides wearing facemasks and social distancing, but we can take steps to ensure our mental health is ok. 

Ms. Santosuosso, the assistant principal at Franklin High School, understands the struggles students are facing during this tumultuous time. She commented that, “Humans are social beings, and seeing peers and teachers through a screen doesn’t seem to cut it. Students have lost the hands-on benefits in-person school has to offer, such as completing group work, not in a breakout room, and instruction from teachers, not through a Google Meet.”

Humans are social beings, and seeing peers and teachers through a screen doesn’t seem to cut it. Students have lost the hands-on benefits in-person school has to offer, such as completing group work, not in a breakout room, and instruction from teachers, not through a Google Meet.”

— Ms. Santosuosso

She goes on to say that this style of learning can lead to increased rates of depression and anxiety. Ms. Santosuosso encourages students to interact with family and friends, in a safe and socially distanced way, of course, to ensure we are still interacting with others. 

The FHS assistant principal also acknowledged that students may be feeling overwhelmed with their workload and encourages them to reach out to their teachers and the Guidance Department if they need anything from an extension on an assignment or to drop down a class level.

Staff members are trying their best to be accommodating during this time period. Faculty at Franklin High School have been given a huge amount of information and resources to check in with students and make sure they are okay. You may have noticed your teachers giving five-minute breaks during class or asking how you are doing.

Ms. Santusso also encourages students to complete some of their work outside. Being outside offers a change of scenery and a break away from the monotonous routine we have all seemed to have fallen into; this can be great for your mental health (although this tip is more useful in warmer weather). She also urges students to avoid looking at the big picture and to complete one assignment at a time. 

It will certainly be interesting to see how student’s mental health and coping mechanisms will change with a hybrid model of school. Although Ms. Santosuosso does acknowledge that adjusting between online school and in-person school will be difficult, she believes it will improve the mental health of students because there will be more interaction between people, even if it is six feet apart. She also believes student’s stress levels will decrease because of the in-person instruction teachers will be giving. Make sure to prioritize your mental health during this difficult time.