Kathy Hunter, assistant superintendent for the Hart School District, sat down to discuss teen mental health and how it is affected by online learning on the Insight Treatment Hour presented by the Insight Treatment Program in Santa Clarita.
According to Hunter there are many ways in which online learning might be affected teens with underlying mental health concerns.
“Having this pandemic which has caused our kids to not just be isolated from school and their teachers, but from each other … has, I would say, been devastating for them,” Hunter said.
Hunter said that a lot of students are reporting feeling more apathetic towards school during the pandemic for a variety of reasons.
Two mental health issues facing teens attending school online are anxiety and ADHD.
Hunter pointed out that, during their high school years, teens are very egocentric.
The tendency for teens to feel like the world is focused on them can cause some anxious teens to feel like everyone is watching them in their online classes. These feelings can be overwhelming for some teens, and may be properly addressed by a treatment program specializing in teen mental health.
ADHD is another struggle for teens trying to adjust to online learning.
“With ADHD we’re having to ask our teachers to make sure they give ‘brain breaks’ and numerous other types of opportunities for students to take a break from sitting in front of that screen,” Hunter said.
During online learning, teens with ADHD may find it especially difficult to focus with all the distractions at home.
Hunter said that parents and teachers can be on the lookout for signs their teen might need assistance with their mental health.
On the school side, Hunter said that they are on the lookout for teens who have had a reduction in performance at school.
“Attendance and grades become the data that we look at to determine that … we need to make some type of an intervention,” Hunter said.
According to Hunter, parents should try and determine if their child has had a change in attitude towards school during the pandemic.
According to Hunter, the district employs a number of mental health workers to address the needs of students in the district.
The Hart District also works alongside organizations such as the Insight Treatment Program to address teen mental health issues in the district.