Leveraging Data to Reveal Student Mental Health Trends
Using technology to flag student mood and engagement anomalies can help schools address serious mental health challenges that students might be experiencing.
Today’s students already struggle with their mental health more than previous generations, and as a result of COVID-19, they are experiencing more mental health challenges than ever. This is becoming especially evident as children have begun to return to in-person learning. With increased behavioral and emotional challenges compared to a year ago, this will be a difficult transition for many students.
For example, nearly 30% of parents say the pandemic has caused harm to their child’s emotional or mental health, and one survey found that 66% of school-age children were anxious about going back to school after the pandemic.
Addressing these issues and students’ mental health should be a top priority. Many states have already implemented legislation requiring schools to have technology to help with early intervention. Leveraging technology to flag student mood and engagement anomalies quickly can help schools avoid or address serious mental health challenges.
Use Multiple Process to I.D. When Students Need Help
No two people present their mental health in the same exact way, so it’s important that schools have multiple processes to help flag when a student needs help. The right technology can provide schools with numerous ways to do this, such as through teachers recording and monitoring students’ behavior, as well as providing students with a way to give direct input and feedback.
For instance, as students return to school, they can complete surveys about their mental health through a communication platform. These surveys can include questions about students’ moods, concerns and other information that can give schools a good idea of how their students are feeling and what they think would be helpful.
Reaching out for help in person can often feel like a difficult task, but when there is a non-intrusive outlet to express their thoughts and feelings, it can be easier for students to be honest and ask for help. And even students who don’t directly ask for help can still be flagged, as these surveys can be conducted daily, weekly, monthly or at any desired interval, so schools can monitor their students for concerning answers, changing needs or any trends that may be revealed.
Even when self-reporting is an option, this does not guarantee that all students will take advantage of it or that they will be flagged, so there needs to be redundancy when it comes to monitoring students’ mental health.
Get Teachers Involved in Flagging Anomalies
Teachers can also be a great way to monitor students, as they interact with them on an almost daily basis and have a unique perspective on their mood and behaviors. Faculty members may observe that one of their students is obviously upset and reach out to them, but with the amount of students teachers are responsible for, it’s impossible to remember every student’s behavior and recognize when it’s changed. However, with a classroom portal, teachers can record each of their students’ moods on a daily basis. By having a record of this, teachers can reveal trends in a student’s behavior that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
For example, a student might come to class upset every other Thursday. This pattern would typically be difficult to recognize, but when it’s recorded and the data is viewed from a broader point of view, it can be easily discovered and addressed.
An in-room portal can also be used by teachers to record other valuable information, such as students’ attendance, tardiness and grades. These data sets can help reveal important insights about a student as well.
For example, a student’s record might reveal that they’ve had an increase in absences as well as a decrease in their mood quality. This could indicate the student is potentially experiencing problems in their home life, are having a negative experience at school or are suffering from poor mental health. With this information, a school staff member can intervene and assist the student in getting the support they need.
By being proactive and reaching out to students before they’ve said anything, schools can help students to avoid problems such as truancy and failed classes.
Technology Can Help K-12 Campuses Address Bullying
Another major concern in schools is bullying, which can seriously impact a student’s mental health. Giving students the option to self-report this through surveys or a communication portal is a great way to encourage students to ask for help. But monitoring students in these other ways can also help reveal a student that might be experiencing bullying.
For instance, if a student’s record shows they only skip or are only marked as being upset in a particular class, that could indicate they are upset by or avoiding someone in that class. These individual behaviors might not seem like a big deal, but when all of this information is recorded and aggregated, it’s able to reveal important insights.
Parents can also offer an important perspective regarding students’ mental health. When given access to the communication portal, parents can also answer surveys and provide their child’s school with helpful information.
A student’s mental health or behavior can be heavily impacted by what’s happening in their home life, such as a loss in the family, a divorce, health issues, etc., but often this will go completely unknown as school. Instead, when a parent can share this information with school faculty, it can help offer the full picture behind a student’s behavior. By informing the school of any ongoing situations, the student can be better understood, and school staff can more appropriately respond to certain situations.
Rather than punishing or reprimanding a student who is going through a difficult time at home for being late, it might be more effective to give the student a pass or speak with that student one on one to see how they’re feeling.
Don’t Ignore Student Mental Health
The consequences of ignoring mental health can be devastating. It’s imperative that whether a student gets good grades and never misses a class, skims by but doesn’t raise many red flags, or misbehaves on a regular basis, that they can be helped and the correct services are provided.
By implementing technology that can monitor student behavior and mental health in various ways, schools can help ensure that no student falls through the cracks.
Amy Jeffs is vice president of Status Solutions.
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