Despite that technology is often perceived as an enemy for mental well-being when used improperly, EdTech can indeed support students’ mental health.
In fact, EdTech and mental health are not tow separated worlds, in fact, COVID-19 emphasized the importance of the integration of emotional-support into school curricula.
The pandemic has amplified the mental distress amongst college and university students and it heavily affected younger students as well given that they suddenly found themselves completely isolated from their friends and peers and missed almost two years of such a crucial and critical phase of their lives.
And on the other side, we have teachers, professors and instructors who needed to quickly adapt to the new norms that posed an unprecedented challenge for them while also having to pay attention to their students’ struggles.
Despite the challenges faced by everyone in the first two years of the pandemic, some of the new learning and teaching techniques used during that time should be adopted in the classroom since we have been gradually going back to normality. Because the technological engaging tools help students acquire the 21st century skills, manage emotions and promote positive relationships. Let’s take gamification in learning as an example, gamification strategies significantly engage students in the educational process and keep the classroom mood high. In addition, interactive LMSs (Learning Management Systems) transform learning into a fun and dynamic process as creating projects and demonstrating them to the classroom online helps students feel more present, develop self-awareness and self-management which in turn improves their attitude towards their colleagues and teachers.
According to OECD, during 2021 in the United States, France and Belgium, young people were 30% to 80% more likely to manifest symptoms of depression and anxiety than adults.
Hence, many campuses around the world in response to COVID crisis have established support networks for their students as well as teletherapy groups and virtual consultations with psychologists which are a good alternative to in-person counselling. For example, in countries like Portugal and the United States, they created free phone lines for students, teachers and parents. Through those channels, personalized guidance can treat early sings of deteriorating mental health.
At UMAMI, we thought of a method that further assists students using our LMS, we have integrated an SMS and Artificial Intelligence features for them to build skills and have a sense of connection while learning and studying remotely.
Finally, it is crucial to address that these EdTech tools aiming to improve the well-being of students are in fact complementary to formal instruction, be it in-person, hybrid or online. While more concrete evidence is required to assess their potential effect, they represent a great low-cost approach that gives students the feeling of belonging to their peers or professional help during times of uncertainty. And since it is World Mental Health Day, we need to reflect on the impact of difficult events and crises on mental health, especially that of students, teachers and parents.