Engaging Students with Mental Health Issues

Engaging Students with Mental Health Issues

One core truth about teaching is that students do not leave their lives, identities, and troubles at the classroom door. The students we teach are complex individuals, and challenges they are having outside the classroom will impact how and how well they learn in our courses. National research on student mental health shows that increasing numbers of our students are dealing with mental health challenges that can impact their academic success. Data from the Healthy Minds Study—a national survey of student mental health—shows that in 2022-23:

  • 41% of students have experienced depression, with 20% reporting severe depression
  • 36% have had symptoms of anxiety, with 17% reporting severe anxiety
  • 29% have taken some type of psychiatric medication in the past year
  • Only 19% of respondents said that emotional or mental difficulties had not hurt their academic performance in the prior four weeks
  • 41% felt there was a public stigma around receiving mental health treatment


These are all concerning numbers, showing that our students are struggling, and those struggles are frequently tied to the stresses of being a college student. So, what can an instructor do? The videos below provide insights into 1) how we can structure our classes to reduce stress and promote student well-being, and 2) how we can support students in crisis while staying in our role of teacher.


In addition to these videos, consider these other sources of training and support:


The videos below feature Tammi Nelson, a Senior Lecturer in the IU School of Social Work and a clinical social work practitioner. She is a member of FACET and a 2020 recipient of the IU Trustee’s Teaching Award.