Virtual Signs of Serious Mental Health Problems: A Teacher's Guide to Protecting Students

Today’s students are the most at-risk for mental health problems in a generation. That was already true before the start of this turbulent year, thanks to the advent of the smartphone, the rise of social media and the growing dominance of internet culture in daily life. Now, students face a minefield of new and ongoing trauma-producing challenges, including the upheaval of normal school life caused by COVID-19, financial and social-emotional problems at home related to a parent’s job loss or family death due to the pandemic, parents’ frustrations from juggling multiple demands, and the stressful, systemic realities of racial injustice.

The result: Students are experiencing more depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety than any generation before them, according to the American Psychological Association. And since teachers are on the front lines of this new normal in education, they need to know the virtual signs of students experiencing mental health issues as well as have strategies to address them.

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