How to support student mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
Students may experience a range of emotions during the COVID-19 situation. As well, changes in routine, including time away from school, may create challenges for some students. We also understand that young people with pre-existing mental health problems may find their symptoms increasing in light of the current uncertainties.
We’ve compiled tips and resources to help answer questions you may have about how to support students during this time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health or substance use emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of your local hospital. Even in these unusual times, it is important to get the immediate help that you need. There are people ready and available to help.
Note: If you visit an emergency room, you should be prepared to participate in “active screening” for COVID-19 as part of a standard protocol at this time. You may also be asked to wear a mask. This is all normal procedure at this time and does not mean that you or your child is more vulnerable to the virus. You just may want to be prepared that the emergency room experience may look somewhat different at the moment. Try to stay calm knowing that this is just standard practice and an example of how caring professionals are providing support.
If you are not sure if it is an emergency, or just need to talk through the situation, consider reaching out to Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000, or the distress line or mobile crisis team in your area.
Youth-focused mental health resources hub
In these trying times, we need to make sure youth mental health is a top priority. We’ve partnered with Jack.org and Kids Help Phone to create an online hub of COVID-19 youth-focused mental health resources to help youth take care of themselves and each other. Please share widely with the young people in your life.
Questions and answers
Taking care of your own mental health and well-being is one important way to help with student mental health. When you feel well, you have more energy to be present for the students you serve. In order to feel your best in these difficult times, it is necessary to find ways each day to care for your own mental health. There is no one right way to do this.
For some, this might mean spending time doing a favourite activity. For others, it might mean connecting with friends by phone or online. Or, it might mean setting a new daily routine or rhythm that helps you to feel some control in what otherwise might feel like an uncontrollable situation. You may want to experiment to find the self-care strategies that are right for you. The bottom line is, taking care of your own mental health helps your students too.
You can learn more about various student mental health topics and how to create and sustain a mentally healthy classroom on our website.
We offer a detailed tutorial on anxiety in the classroom. This tutorial may be helpful because it’s normal and expected that students and others may experience more anxious feelings during this time.
For guidance specific to the pandemic, download the slides from our April 2020 webinar called Promoting Student Mental Health & Wellness During Remote Learning.
Your efforts to create a mentally healthy classroom will help to ease the transition back to school for all students. Some students may need additional support to help them return to school routines, process the situation and work through their experiences.
The following resources can help you provide support for student mental health in your classroom and school.
This info sheet provides strategies you can use to support the mental health of all students, as well as more specific strategies for students who may need additional support for their mental health.
The ONE-CALL process provides educators with a step-by-step approach to supporting students when they exhibit signs of problem with their mental health.
The 6Rs Guidance Teacher Resource outlines an approach that can be used by guidance teachers in supporting students who are seeking help for a problem with their mental health.
Your school board’s mental health leader can also suggest specific resources that may be helpful to you. Find your mental health leader here.
You might also be interested in:
Reaching Out – A resource to support student help-seeking by showcasing different ways to start the conversation with a trusted person and what to expect after reaching out.
Social-emotional learning video series for students
Children’s Mental Health Ontario tips on talking to anxious children about COVID-19
The First Peoples Wellness Circle has put together a resource with tips for First Nations parents and families on supporting mental wellness of children and young people in their communities.
National Association of School Psychologists
Parent tips, resources for schools and school mental health professionals
The Hope for Wellness Help Line
Mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada
Ministry of Education – Learn at home
Find supplementary resources for elementary and secondary students to practice math and literacy skills and learn at home
Youth-focused mental health resources hub
An online hub of COVID-19 youth-focused mental health resources from Jack.org, Kids Help Phone and School Mental Health Ontario
Public Health Agency of Canada
Risk level for Canadians, current situation, travel advisories
Indigenous Services Canada
Information for Indigenous communities related to COVID-19 and available supports
Métis Nation of Ontario
COVID-19 updates, information about culturally relevant mental health and addictions support
Government of Ontario
Ontario news, status of cases in Ontario – updated at 10:30 a.m. daily
World Health Organization
Technical documents, questions and answers