Supporting Student Mental Health Through The Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Submitted By: Hilary Estes

South Bay Adult Education Consortium(El Camino)


Type of Practice: Program Development / Curriculum / Classroom

Program Area(s): ABE / ASE, ESL / EL Civics / Citizenship, CTE / Workforce Prep / Pre-apprenticeship

Region: Los Angeles Basin

Consortia Involved: South Bay Adult Education Consortium (El Camino)

Story Images

Program Overview

Mental health challenges impeded the success of adult learners at Torrance Adult School. The school's Student Support Services team developed a robust collection of resources and held live virtual workshops on a variety of mental health topics such as stress and anxiety coping skills.

The Program of Practice

Over the past several years, the Student Support Team noticed that there were significant numbers of students who were not progressing in their classes or who were dropping out. As teachers referred students who were struggling to the Student Support Team, they noticed that many of these students were experiencing mental health challenges that were impeding their academic success. The mental health challenges, especially around stress and anxiety, intensified and became more apparent with the additional stressors brought on by the Covid 19 pandemic.

During the Covid 19 pandemic, staff members at Torrance Adult School observed that many of our students were facing increased levels of stress and other mental health challenges. Some students disclosed their struggles to a teacher or staff member and others showed signs of stress in their behavior. Many students struggled to attend class and make academic progress when faced with the additional challenges of online learning, lost jobs and caring for their families while studying.

The Response

In order to address the mental health challenges that intensified during the pandemic, Torrance Adult School’s Student Support Services team developed a robust collection of resources and presented live virtual workshops on a variety of mental health topics such as stress and anxiety coping skills. The focus on supporting students’ social-emotional wellness and mental health was developed and expanded throughout the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years. Plans are in place to continue providing support and expand the range of mental health programming offered during the 2021-2022 school year.

Early in the pandemic, the Student Support Services team provided live online workshops and developed a website showcasing all the resources that they offer as well as a Counselor Corner GoogleSite which provides a curated list of mental health resources that students could access asynchronously. Information about workshops and resources was posted on the website, shared through the general school newsletter which is emailed to students and staff members on a weekly basis and announced during classes. The annual student needs survey was expanded to include questions about mental health. In Winter 2021 the Student Support Services team started a virtual Counselor’s hour at the end of each term. This was an open forum for students to ask questions about academics, career guidance and mental health. In the 2020-2021 school year, the annual Resource Fair was expanded to include resources that focused on mental health. Additionally, the Student Support Services team worked with a variety of organizations in the community to provide students with additional mental health resources. For the 2021-2022 school year, the Student Support Services team will be presenting wellness activities on campus twice per semester. These will be hands-on, stress-relieving activities to promote student mental health.

The Unique Features of the Program

As an adult school the Student Support Services team recognized the need for a large student safety net surrounding mental health. We had not provided these expanded services to students prior to 2020.
Having a focused effort on mental health and social-emotional wellness helped Torrance Adult School to support each student as a whole person and better empower them to meet their academic goals.
Students learned life skills and strategies on how to cope with stressful situations they can use in all aspects of their lives. The Student Support Services Team created a range of resources with which students could engage synchronously and asynchronously to support their mental health and social-emotional wellbeing.

The Outcome

While the mental health of a whole student population is difficult to measure, anecdotal reports, student surveys and participation data support the contention that students benefited from the mental health resources provided by the Student Support Services Team.

Student attendance at mental health workshops
Stress & Anxiety Workshop had 40 students in attendance
On average, mental health workshops had approximately 20 students
On the annual Student Needs Survey, 31% stated that they would like support with stress management, 15% stated that they would like support with anxiety, 8% stated that they would like support with depression, 17% said they would like individual appointments with the counselor and 14% said they would like to participate in group counseling. Student Support Services reaches out to students individually to offer services based on their responses to the surveys.
Student Support Services created the Counselor’s Corner website to provide mental health resources to students during Covid.
Student Support Services website (also has mental health resources):
The Student Support Services Team reported students expressing their interest and gratitude verbally and through email messages after the mental health workshops.
Teachers reported students sharing mental health struggles as well as their appreciation for the support they received from the Student Support Services Team
Recording of Stress & Anxiety Coping skills: