How can technology boost the well-being of teachers and students?
New challenges have arisen in the field of education affecting both teachers and students. One of the greatest challenges of the past decade is, without a doubt, the pandemic. The uncertainty, anxiety, worry for loved ones, the lockdown and other measures have taken a toll on everybody’s emotional and mental health. Kids were stuck at home, away from peers, and teachers were struggling with half-baked remote learning solutions.
However, we all must face another immense task which is digitalisation. More and more apps appear and grapple for not only our but children’s and adolescents’ attention. Throughout history, we have never spent as much time in front of a screen as we do nowadays. The excessive use of social media has a proven negative effect on kids’ and young adults’ self-worth and general well-being.
During the lockdown, these two challenges were completely intertwined and made teachers and students more frustrated, anxious, and depressed than ever. Fostering happiness in the classroom shows children that they matter, not only their achievements. For some kids, especially those who come from troubled homes, a supportive, joyful teacher could be not just a beacon of light but truly life-changing. Therefore, schools should focus less on the classical metrics for example grades, and the number of hours spent on studying but on students’ and teachers' mental and emotional well-being.
Why is emotional well-being so important?
Surveys show a 30% to 80% increase in mental health problems amongst students worldwide. They feel less enthusiastic and motivated about the things they used to enjoy and experience more anxiety in general. Elevated stress levels and negative emotional and mental states do not only affect the performance of the students but pose a much greater risk to teenagers of getting into trouble and self-destructive behaviour. Patterns learnt in adolescents will carry over into adult years, therefore it is crucial to help youth develop good habits and mental health.
Appreciated and motivated students not only perform better but are more creative and sociable. Emotional and mental well-being provides advantages outside of the walls of the school. Kids, who could connect meaningfully with their peers and teachers and whose well-being was managed properly, will enjoy the lifelong benefits of happy and peaceful school years.
What can technology do?
We can see a boom in the mental health technology sphere. The awareness around mental well-being is growing, so tech companies seize the opportunity to create scalable, easy-to-use solutions that are one click away on our phones and much cheaper than traditional therapy. But can we fight fire with fire? Can apps aid the mental and emotional well-being of kids, as well as their teachers?
The short answer to this question is yes. There is a myriad of apps developed by scientists and psychologists where any age group, from the 3-5 year-olds, through teens and college students, to teachers can find solutions to ease the effect of stress and manage mental health issues and illnesses.
Mindfulness and meditation
Calm is the number one sleep and meditation app in the world. It offers a wide variety of tracks for everyone, from beginners to veteran meditators. Moreover, users can find sleep stories, mindful movement and stretching exercises and they can decide how much time they want to spend practising as guided meditations are available from 3 to 25 minutes.
Headspace brings peace to the life of students and teachers as well as building on proven meditation techniques. The app helps kids to fall asleep easier and lead more mindful lives by paying attention to the sounds around them and the sensations they feel. The simple, yet colourful design helps younger students focus and remember the techniques.
SAM (Self-help App for the Mind) is backed by academic research as it was developed by a team of researchers from the University of the West of England. It offers a wide range of different tools that helps monitor moods and feelings and provides self-help techniques.
MindShift® uses CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) which not only helps users gain some momentary relief but reframe their anxiety, overcome their fears and enjoy the long-term benefits of the method.
What’s Up? Combines CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) methods to help users cope with depression, anxiety, and stress. The platform is simple and user-friendly so everyone can find the best methods for themselves in seconds.
Mood tracking and mood training
Positive psychology, mindfulness, and cognitive behavioural therapy in one app help students and teachers to break out of negative thoughts. Happify offers activities and games that will boost their mood and reduce the effect of stress and anxiety.
The benefits of this app are twofold. Firstly,Moodfit helps the students understand their symptoms, stress levels, and triggers more by allowing them to track their moods. Then it teaches them, using CBT methods, how to cope with tough situations and anxious periods.
For better sleep
Sleep affects our mood and mental health and vice versa. Good and enough sleep is critical for students of all ages and teachers as well. Sleep Cycle tracks the user’s sleep so they can better understand their natural rhythm and get up at the right time to feel energetic for the day.
Teens are at the greatest risk of self-harming. 17% of adolescents have admitted to committing self-harm at least once in their lives compared to 5% of adults. Therapy and close attention are vital in the management of self-harm, however, apps can help students take back control over their emotions and urges. Calm harm offers activities to mitigate the urge of self-harming. Users can choose whether they want to comfort, distract or express themselves.
If you need therapy
Via Talkspace, teachers in need can have online therapy sessions and live chat with a mental health professional. The chat option is available 24/7 and with the 100% online option, they can save time and money.
For the little ones
Anxiety and heart rate are related and a higher than average heart rate could be a reliable indicator of stress or anxiety in smaller children who cannot express their emotional state due to their young age. ChillPanda monitors the heart rate and offers calming exercises, games, and breathing techniques.
Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame
Sesame Street muppets teach kids how to deal with frustration and upsetting life events using the "breathe, think, do" method. Through this app, children can create a cute muppet friend who follows them on their journey to resilience, meanwhile, parents receive useful tips on how to help their kids overcome their frustration.
About the author
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