Student mental health is a priority when returning to school – 05/14/2022 – Education

After two years with remote classes, students who entered the university in the last semesters started going to educational institutions in person.

The long period at home, however, damaged mental health and learning for some. That’s why schools create or adapt programs to help them on both fronts.

At FGV (Fundação Getulio Vargas), professors give students a test on material from previous semesters. Depending on the result, the student participates in a kind of recovery, after school hours, with an average duration of three months.

In addition, students are available 24 hours a day by psychologists. “It’s well sought after, and it’s an initiative that came about because of the pandemic, but that shouldn’t end in the future”, says Antonio Freitas, pro-rector.

Insper was already working on both fronts, but saw the number of students served by the programs multiply as they returned to face-to-face training.

From the perception of the student, colleagues or teachers that something is not right with someone’s mental health, the school intervenes and offers help. If the student does not accept it, he is monitored and, depending on the case, his family is contacted.

“In addition to the psychological care itself, which also extends to families, we recommend that the student participate in the community, in sports activities, collectives, etc.”, says Guilherme Martins, director of graduation. He estimates that the number of people served has doubled because of the isolation period.

The school also instituted, with the pandemic, a leveling test between cycles (before, there was only one assessment, for newly approved). Those who do poorly are sent to extra classes.

The number of students in these reinforcements increased two and a half times with the pandemic.

The Mackenzie Presbyterian University, coincidentally, had implemented the Pro-freshman program a month before the health crisis.

“Among other things, there is a placement test. The student receives a grade and, if necessary, we encourage him to take a course, during a semester, that helps him to remedy deficiencies”, says Janete Brunstein, pro-dean of graduation .

Between 2021 and 2022, 959 students participated in the project to retrieve Portuguese language content and 1,281 did so with mathematics.

ESPM has had the Papo (Psychological Support and Guidance Program) for almost a decade. On the São Paulo campus, there are 60 visits per semester. The student is referred to the project when teachers identify dissonant behavior from the rest of the class. If not, it is followed from afar, via reports from teachers.

Specifically because of the pandemic, however, ESPM implemented Open Chat, with conversation circles on topics such as affection, isolation and mental health.

“There was a work on non-violent communication, because the students had lost a little dexterity in dealing with each other after isolation”, says Cristina Helena Pinto de Mello, director of the area that takes care of the well-being of teachers and students.

Fernanda Turri, 21, is well aware of the difficulties in socializing generated by the pandemic. She passed the psychology course at Unifesp (Federal University of São Paulo) at the end of last year, after four years of prep school — before, she wanted medicine.

Adaptation, however, was difficult. Classes, in Santos (SP), started in April.

“Meeting people made me anxious. There was the freshman integration week and it was very difficult to fit in. There were activities all week and I left on Wednesday. I couldn’t talk to anyone.”

She says she is sure that the scenario would be different if there was no pandemic. But she says that later on, she found support in her colleagues. “I talked to the veterans, told them about the difficulties and created a support network”, says Fernanda.

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