Student Mental Health Issues as They Return to School

Student Mental Health Issues Returning to School During the Pandemic
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Back to school is typically a happy time of year for many families as they return to daily routine, structure, reunite with friends, and enjoy extracurriculars. Now in the second year of returning to school during a pandemic, and with it being the first time many students have been to in-person school since March of 2020, there is a myriad of student mental health considerations that schools, parents, and communities need to address. Based on individual challenges students face, returning to school during a pandemic oftentimes means experiencing mental health issues, including anxiety, stress, and depression. 

According to an observation by the U.S. Department of Education, “Nearly all students have experienced some challenges to their mental health and well-being during the pandemic, and many have lost access to school-based services and supports, with early research showing disparities based on race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ identity, and other factors.”  

Pride Surveys Mental Health Infographic

Pride Surveys Mental Health Infographic

These are several common situations that are contributing to student mental health issues: 


According to the most recent full-year data provided by the Children’s Defense Fund, over 1.5 million public school children experienced homelessness at some point during the 2017-18 school year. Experts report that the number of homeless students increased due to and during the pandemic. While the federal government is applying approximately $600 million that will go directly to school districts in part to help alleviate homelessness, that does not change the circumstances some of these children went through and are currently going through. 

Additionally, many students rely on free meals during school, which is already challenging during the summer months, but became much more difficult to provide during the pandemic, creating another stressful situation of how they would access the meals they rely on daily.

These students have likely fallen behind during any part of the school year that was online due to not having access to the internet and other resources. School counselors, teachers, and administrators should do everything possible to work with these students due to the unimaginable burden and potential mental health issues as a result. 

Loss of Friends and Family Members

USC research shows that as of April 2021, up to 43,000 children in the United States have lost a parent to COVID-19. The CDC reports over 626,000 people in the United States have died from COVID-19 thus far, as of August 24, 2021. These deaths have a significant impact on people of all ages. They can vastly contribute to student mental health issues, especially those children who have lost a family member or close friend. Data collection to understand the number of students who a loss has impacted is essential. 

Grades and Education

Grades and quality of education are being affected by all the above. When students are experiencing stress and mental health challenges, their grades will likely be impacted. A lack of resources for virtual learning last school year caused a decrease in grades or many students not passing. Additionally, many students who did have access to a safe environment and the internet still had issues keeping up when they switched from in-person to virtual. All of these factors can impact student mental health. 

General Pressure and Decision Making

Older students returning to school now have additional considerations, including whether to get vaccinated for those over 12, if they should wear a mask even if it is not mandated, any sick family members they are concerned about, and additional concerns about the Delta variant, in particular. 

Supporting Students

Schools and parents must continue to collect important data related to student mental health issues and other impacts on students as the result of COVID-19. Pride Surveys has Student Surveys designed to help fully understand the effects of the pandemic on students so we can all work together to help alleviate student mental health issues and disparities in the quality of education students receive.

It is crucial to obtain a self-reported feel for some of the challenges schools and students face as they return to in-person learning. The more counseling and advisory resources and opportunities schools can provide for their students to improve student mental health issues and decrease stress, the better. 

Pride Surveys is here and available to discuss appropriate questions for online and in-person student surveys. Contact us today to learn more.


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