There’s no question that the student mental health crisis is impacting schools. Cases of anxiety and depression are increasing, with adolescents and young adults being hit the hardest. Recent reports indicate that approximately 10 million individuals ages 13–18 are in need of professional help for a mental health condition. With this in mind, the conversation around student safety has shifted beyond protecting students in a physical sense to consider the whole child with a social and emotional approach.
While schools may have protocols in place to support struggling students on campus, the recent transition to distance learning can leave many educators unsure of how to help. Moving to a distance learning environment can also be a challenging and isolating time for students, who may feel disconnected from their friends and teachers. With changes to their routine, concerns over COVID-19, and possible scarcity of food and resources, it’s a stressful time to be a student in the U.S. As such, it’s crucial to provide students with mental health tools and resources that are accessible online.
Although things feel chaotic now, there are many online mental health resources available to help. Please refer to this list if a student needs immediate support during school closures and beyond.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines on how to cope with stress during this pandemic. They offer easily implemented ideas to help lessen anxiety, including taking breaks from the news cycle, taking care of your body, making time to unwind, and connecting with others.
- The Trevor Project is the leading national organization for crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth, offering support 24/7 from trained counselors via phone (1-866-488-7386), chat, text, and their social networking site, TrevorSpace.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s anonymous peer-to-peer online support group is a safe and supportive place for individuals and their families to share their experiences with depression, anxiety, and other related disorders. They also have a free iOS app.
- Nemours is a nonprofit children's health system that offers advice on hundreds of physical, emotional, and behavioral topics for kids and teens. Students can access answers to their mental health questions, watch informational videos, and learn new tools and strategies to cope with anxiety, depression, stress, and other challenges.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness has created the Strength of US community, which provides a platform for adolescents to connect with others about their mental health challenges. The community includes young adult discussion groups as well as OK2Talk and You Are Not Alone, two spaces for students to blog and share their stories. There’s also the NAMI AIR app, which allows users to anonymously share their stories and receive feedback from other users.
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance also has peer-led online support groups for young adults living with depression and bipolar disorder, offering a place to share experiences, discuss coping skills, and give hope to one another.
- Mindfulness for Teens has a repository of free guided meditations designed to help students reduce anxiety and depression while providing avenues to cope with stress.
- Johns Hopkins University developed a text service to help students track their mood. Mood 24/7 texts users each day and tracks responses to show trends in how they’re feeling.
- The Jed Foundation offers a toolbox for teens to learn social and emotional skills. Their resources around managing stress are easy to understand and implement with practical steps for students to take.
- RemedyLive is a free suicide prevention chat center that’s geared toward teens and available all day, every day. They offer direct support to students who are struggling with mental health challenges or considering an act of suicide.
For students needing more immediate help, there’re a number of call and text lines open 24/7 to assist them. These include:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline: 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727)
- Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741741
- The Anti-Violence Project Hotline: 212-714-1141
Coping with feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression can be challenging, but finding the resources to help shouldn’t be. While it’s important for students to receive help from a mental health professional, these resources can stand in for students when they need support that’s more easily accessible.
Which digital mental health resources do you refer your students to? Tell us in the comments below to help other educators support their students through this tough time.