Mental health is an vital aspect of living a healthy and balanced life.
This is especially crucial for students and teachers, as schools tend to have a lot of stressors that can be detrimental to one’s well-being. For instance, reports on Thrive Global note how 73 percent of students are likely to experience at least one mental health crisis during their studies. Between having to deal with academic stress (plus student loans for those in college), lack of sleep, social pressures, and parental expectations, students become easily susceptible to anxiety and depression. Similarly, an article from BioMed Central informs how burnout has become the number one health risk for educators around the world, primarily because of “too [much] workload.”
Such numbers should be alarming, given that schools are supposed to be a place of crucial development, and not a source of negativity. Fortunately, institutions have started looking for ways to address these mental health issues through education techology solutions to support and facilitate the educational process.
EdTech Solutions for Students
Being stuck in the same cycle of lectures, homework, and exams can become repetitive and demotivating. This makes attending school feel like a mere obligation. Teachers can break up the monotony by introducing some games into the lesson plan. In fact, a study on Sage Pub explains that video gaming is one of the most effective ways to boost engagement in the classroom. Of course, the type of games depends on the student demographic and what kind of class it’s going to be used for. If you have a subject on computers or programming, Minecraft is recommended by HP as a good crash course, as it’s one of few games where you can build your own games within the program. It even has an actual classroom version called Minecraft: Education which includes controls for classrooms, communication tools, and a detailed tutorial for first-time educator users. Other games purposefully created to teach students include The Oregon Trail for 19th-century history, The Land of Venn for geometry, Cities: Skylines for economics, and Civilization for political science.
Encouraging physical activity
A big part of mental wellness is staying active. In fact, researchers from Zahedan University attest that exercising is good for one’s self-esteem and mental health, as physical activity makes the body release feel-good endorphins. And while the usual PhysEd activities are good, they’re definitely not for everyone. You can make exercising more fun by introducing digital dance sports like Just Dance or Dance Central into the PhysEd curriculum. If the school has the budget for it, you can even invest in virtual reality (VR) devices, which have a bunch of active games like Beat Saber and Sword Master for students to play.
Much of the stressors from schools (like academic pressures) are inevitable at some point, but it helps to have someone to talk to. One of our tips on ‘5 Innovative Ways To Create A Healthy/Positive Classroom Culture’ is encouraging a positive inter-student relationship, as it helps them get support from people who understand what they’re going through. However, not everyone is brave enough to approach other students easily. This is why there are apps like MeeToo and Big White Wall, which are designed to provide guided peer support for students. These apps allow users to anonymously post messages as well as respond to the ones posted by others.
EdTech Solutions for Teachers
We mentioned earlier how a major cause of faculty burnout was being hampered by too much work. After all, teachers often have to deal with a lot of mundane, repetitive tasks like checking papers and sorting files. Though these tasks may appear minor, they easily pile up and contribute to burnout. As such, it helps to automate some of them to lessen the burden. For instance, ZipGrade Cloud is an optical scanner app that can help you grade multiple-choice exams automatically. If your outputs are mostly digital (like papers), programs like File Juggler and TagScanner can help you sort, organize, and find files much more efficiently. Overall, the key with automation is determining which tasks you’re wasting time on the most. Is it checking papers? Looking for files? You’ll find that there’s probably a program that can help.
Rather than have your students spam your email inbox, it’s more efficient for them to reach you through messaging apps like WhatsApp or online learning platforms like Edmodo. This is also beneficial for you for instances like schedule announcements or upcoming deadlines you want to remind them of. That way, you're only a group message or public post away. Plus, with majority of students using smartphones, they're likely to see it right away.
According to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, student and teacher well-being are closely intertwined. If teachers are in a good mental space, their students are less likely to show signs of negative mental health as well. The opposite is just as true, as unruly student behavior has been cited as a possible cause for a teacher’s psychological distress.
In order to address the growing need for wellness in schools, a solution needs to be provided for both ends of the spectrum. Fortunately, education technology solutions are there to cater to both.