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Lesson Plans

Teens discuss mental health during COVID-19

October 26, 2020

Full Lesson



Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions below. To read the transcript of the video above, click here. You can watch the entire SRL Well Beings special here.

Summary: How has the pandemic affected the mental health of students? Hear how remote learning and social isolation have affected students in their own words. This video appeared on the NewsHour as part of the Well Beings series and was produced by Student Reporting Labs. Isolation from crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic can impact mental health, which in turn can affect a person’s emotional well-being, social motivation, sleep and more. 

  • Hania said combining negative thoughts with stress from school work has made her mental health “more prominent than ever.”
  • Daijah said she sometimes “feels like she’s trapped” in her own mind while in isolation.
  • Lily said that as an introvert, she was always nervous for freshman year, so remote learning isn’t so horrible.
  • Francie said she’s trying to stay optimistic, “but things change so fast,” and she doesn’t know what the future will hold.
  • Julian said he misses the separation of school and home life.
  • Simon said that returning to school with a mask, unable to talk to many, leaves “just you and your brain.”
  • Shelby said that she wants and needs “love, support and encouragement” in this time.


Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is the story about?
  • What are some of the causes of the students’ mental health concerns?
  • Where do students impacted by COVID and challenges of distance learning live? 
  • When did these students’ mental health become a bigger concern?
  • Why are they feeling this way?
  • How else is the pandemic affecting them?

Then have students share with the class or through a Learning Management System (LMS).

Focus questions:

  1. How do you feel watching these personal accounts of students’ mental health?
  2. What would be helpful measures to take if someone begins feeling worse about themselves and their mental health?
  3. Have you noticed a difference in the mental health of yourself or those around you during the pandemic?
  4. Who is a trusted adult you could talk to if you are feeling anxious or stressed?

Media Literacy: This clip is made up entirely of personal stories from students. Do you think this gets the message across effectively, or do you think it should be backed up with a more “traditional news story”? If so, what additional information would be helpful?

Dig Deeper: 

  1. Watch the clip below or read this article to understand key questions surrounding mental health during the pandemic. Psychiatrist Jessi Gold and Anna Nawaz answer important questions such as how to deal with anxiety, when to seek professional help, how to deal with loneliness and resources to help during COVID-19.
  2. Read this article to get advice on how to manage remote learning from students who’ve been there. 
  3. You can watch the entire special from Student Reporting Labs and Well Beings below.

This lesson was written by EXTRA’s intern by Rebecca Shaid, a freshman at Northwestern University.

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