Digital Accessibility and Mental Health

Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people every year and common ones, such as anxiety and depression, affect 1 in 6 people each week. The state of our mental health affects how we think, feel and react - and therefore how we learn - and can in turn be affected by our environment, various situations and life factors, such as social isolation, stress, bereavement, discrimination, etc. Mental health problems may be diagnosed or undiagnosed, occasionally visible, but often hidden.

It is likely some of your students will be struggling with their mental health at some point throughout their studies, whether because of a pre-existing condition or a stressful life event. Designing your teaching bearing this in mind can create a more supportive learning environment for them, making it more likely that they will stick through their studies and thrive.

Mental Health Quick Tips

Check content for issues

Ensure your materials have inclusive language. You can check for non-inclusive language automatically in MS Office.

Provide information early

Consider letting students know in advance if you are going to ask for their input in a synchronous session, to allow them a few minutes to think about their contribution. This can also encourage more active participation.

Give options

Consider providing more than one option for student activities that are more likely to put them on the spot, such as pre-recorded presentations, rather than live ones.

Be clear, concise, consistent

Ensure instructions, expectations and next steps are clear. Students should know what is required of them and what is optional, as well as what will happen when they submit an assignment.

Ask, don't assume

Give students the opportunity to ask questions or give feedback asynchronously and/ or anonymously. This will enable them to do so, even if they felt shy during a live session or are afraid to ask a question they think may be obvious.

Mental Health Quick Tip Clips - AbilityNet