This Is the New Normal: How Academic Administrators and Leaders Can Address Students’ Social-Emotional and Mental Health Needs

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and “normal life” as we knew it came to a screeching halt in March 2020, schools at all levels, from preschool through college and university, had to figure out next steps. As the pandemic raged on and we slogged through months of remote learning and then a return to a new version of in-person learning, it has become clear that the social-emotional losses of isolation, lack of practice in social settings, and nagging fear about health and the future have taken a considerable toll on social-emotional well-being and ultimately on mental health. Researchers are now pointing to potential changes in brain structure of students in the COVID cohort, as well as their worrying rise in anxiety levels. As a result of these stressors, many students entered this year at high risk of dropping or stopping out, making this a make-or-break time for both individuals and campuses affected by this trend.

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