American students were experiencing widespread mental-health distress long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. A tragic expression of this distress, youth suicide has been on the rise for the past decade and is now the second leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds. Now, the pandemic is making matters worse. In a recent survey, over 80% of college students reported that COVID-19 has impacted their lives through increased isolation, loneliness, stress, and sadness. Although it’s too soon to conclusively link national youth suicide data to the pandemic, school districts across the nation have been reporting alarming spikes in both suicides and attempts at self-harm.

These connections are entirely unsurprising given what we know about the impact of social isolation on mental and emotional well-being. While stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and social-distancing precautions are essential public-health tools for curbing the spread of infectious disease, these measures may well have the opposite effect on the prevalence of psychological anguish and distress.

As we continue to weather the impacts of the pandemic and work toward recovery and an eventual full return the classroom, here are three things educators, school counselors, administrators, and parents can do.

  1. Know the warning signs of distress in students.
  2. Connect students with resources to help.
  3. Build social connection.

Read the full article about student mental health by Marty Swanbrow Becker at Brookings.