Data Shows Striking Gap in Student Support After Pandemic
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
As the pandemic draws to a close, one group is raising awareness of the crucial need for student support and mental health resources.
According to YouthTruth's recent Students Weigh In report, the support gap for students has widened during the pandemic. As more students cite mental health concerns as an obstacle to their learning, fewer students report having an adult at school to talk to.
Jen Wilka, executive director of Youth Truth, said while students' sense of belonging and how much they are learning in class rebounded, they are still not receiving all the necessary support to do their best in school.
"Disparities remain across student demographic groups," Wilka pointed out. "What I want to call attention to is that students sense their own mental health, how mental health is impacting their ability to learn, and the ease at which they can access support from adults at school has still not recovered."
The study showed the percentage of students mentioning depression, stress, or anxiety as an obstacle to their learning increased from 39% in spring 2020 to 48% in the 2022-23 academic year.
The YouthTruth Study emphasized the significance of establishing an inclusive environment that serves every student. Educators agree a sense of belonging is fundamental to motivating students to learn ultimately leading to improved outcomes.
Wilka highlighted equity issues that students face in school.
"We see gaps in terms of LGBTQ plus identity, a greater proportion of middle school students are having a positive sense of belonging versus high school students who are struggling more," Wilka explained. "Nonwhite students' sense of belonging is poorer than white students in our data."
The report indicated 77% of LGBTQ+ students during the 2022-23 school year reported depression, stress, and anxiety as impediments to their learning, in contrast to 41% of their peers.
To tackle equity issues students face, Wilka suggested offering additional assistance to students experiencing mental health and socioeconomic barriers, as well as constantly listening to them.
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