Using the possibilities of ICT to promote well-being
In France, during the lockdown period, the efficiency of online initiatives has been evaluated with very positive results for persons experiencing mental distress, and this includes online tools, self-help apps and contents, teleconsultation, escape games, short initiations to wellness techniques, immersive or virtual reality programs.
A review by Seabrook and colleagues (2016) showed that access to more online support reduced the levels of depression and anxiety in children and adolescents. Although as mentioned above, social media use was linked to depression, social media can also be used to benefit the mental health of adolescents; strengthen relationships with new and existing friends online, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, express their feelings more easily and receive support from others.
Teachers can use this information to design information sessions on how to use social media to connect with others in times of isolation (e.g., public health crises, wars etc.) as a mental promotion strategy.
During the pandemic, many countries have implemented messaging programs for teachers, students and parents. In Chile, Sumate foundation, a second chance schools network, implemented a program to continue to give emotional support and education continuity to students through WhatsApp and social media. A recent intervention in Ghana introduced SMS to improve parents’ engagement in educational activities, and promote gender parity in education through messages promoting girls’ education and addressing some common stereotypes around gender roles during the school closures.
A review on the use of Educational Technology (EdTech) found that technology-enabled behavioural interventions, especially the ones led by teachers, help promote students’ psychosocial wellbeing, make students feel more connected to their community and are highly cost-effective.
EdTech-related pedagogies implemented by teachers, may also promote students’ psychosocial wellbeing as they enable communication with local communities as well as with global population and often involve some element of play and recreation activity.
Breaking the silence around mental health, ending stigmatization
Another positive trend that emerged out of necessity in this tumultuous period is the renewed emphasis on the mental health and well-being of children. To get parents on board and empower them to protect their children as best as possible, guidance and awareness-raising tools were created, which helped destigmatize children’s mental health. Public health campaigns have been carried outusing new media, such as WHO’s #HealthyAtHome, that includes a whole series of understandable advice for parents, as well as for people with mental health problems.