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Creating Virtual Activities that can Improve Student Mental Health

Virtual learning has a profound effect on various aspects of our lives—some seen, some unseen. One of the significant barriers to learning in recent years is managing students' well-being. With the on-going transition of schools to virtual learning environments following current unprecedented circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic, many teachers shift their attention to their students' mental health.

Being a student is hard, but managing other responsibilities and school work while experiencing mental illness might be even more stressful. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly one among five youth aged 13-18 has mental health conditions. About 70 percent of people living with mental health conditions acquire them before attaining 24 years of age. 

These conditions can sometimes be scary and debilitating, forcing students to hide instead of seeking help. Teachers and educators should continuously search for resourceful information on how to improve their students' mental health.

Why You Need Virtual Activities in Your Class

Many students experience fear the moment they identify a mental health concern within themselves as they might not be able to recognize its source. Most of those who once felt anxious during public speaking sessions but abruptly experienced overwhelming anxiety failed to figure out what changed.

Many factors can contribute to mental health changes, including academic pressure, family, and significant life changes. Creating virtual activities can help engage and alleviate anxiety and stress among students. Teachers can use virtual activities for specific advisory classes, well-being lessons or can be laced into other curricula, including physical education, humanities, art, and English.

Here's what these activities can do for your students:

  • Energize them at the start of a class before the lesson commences. 
  • Keep students connected to classmates.
  • Prompt students to think about their mental health.
  • Center their brain in learning for the day.
  • Revive energy when they feel depleted.
  • Applaud students and finish the class on a positive note.

Virtual Activities That Can Improve Student Mental Health

We have created some well-being activities for teachers to deliver virtually using a research-based framework. These activities are excellent ways to build a sense of community within a virtual class. They can also help develop teacher-student relationships and give students a break to relax and preserve their learning. Here are some ideas you can use to improve student mental health. 

Include Music        

Music can focus your thoughts and instill a more positive mindset. You can get your group of students in tune by allowing them a chance to contribute to a collaborative playlist or have a lip sync battle. Challenge them to create a "soundtrack" that fits with the book you're studying. 

You could also have a playlist of the day, welcoming everyone to listen to several songs curated by staff or students. This may include song titles that cleverly refer to dealing with change or digital technology. Be sure to screen all songs to ensure that they are appropriate for your students and only share positive messages that uplift students. 

Share Talents

Create a daily interactive program where each student shares their talents or favorite objects. This can be anything appropriate, from telling funny jokes or showcasing a skill, to playing an instrument or sharing something they're interested in. A show and tell environment is especially popular with younger children who love to show off their toys and books. Just inform the students earlier before the big day so that they can prepare in advance.

Create Art

Drawing and painting show how each one of us interprets similar information. Describe something to your students and ask them to draw. Describe it to them until everyone understands what it is and can draw in their version. Let everyone show their drawing before showing them the actual item. You can use this to inform them about the importance of perspective and listening to others. 

Perhaps you can host an instructor or talented student to guide your students through a reasonably simple object to paint. Even though most students may not have paint supplies at their homes, the video itself can be relaxing. You can also make it an interactive session, with students making suggestions to the painter.

Write Class Stories

Consider starting a story with a few words and ask each student to add a few more words. Keep track of the story by typing the told stories and after everyone has had their turn, read the entire story on the screen for everyone to enjoy. Stories can cover all topics and vary from day to day, depending on what is essential to your students. 

As you write stories with your students, you can compile them for a class book to share with them at the end of the year to showcase their creative side. 

Take Pictures

Ask students to take a picture of something attached to a theme or the current lesson. Pictures could include something they find funny, a favorite activity, or a view outside their window they like.

Have students share their pictures and collect them on a virtual board to showcase to one another. However, be mindful of students who may be in difficult conditions, such as living in a hotel or a shelter, and accommodate as required to safeguard their privacy. 


With these few ideas, you can create lots of team-building memories in your classroom. Teaching is demanding, and virtual learning has been an adjustment for all. Teachers don't have to give up all the fun to improve students' mental health simply because they are further apart.

Taking time to do something fun each day will help students engage in the actual lessons. When students use their creativity to their advantage, they'll respond positively. And the students will probably surprise you with how much they have to share. 

In the middle of uncertainty and stress, you might not be able to assure your students of the certainty of events, including when they will return to school and a normal school experience. However, by aggressively supporting your student's well-being through creative virtual activities, you'll make them feel cared for, safe, and valued amid challenging times.