Adult Education News

Mental Health and Adult Learners

Mental wellness is crucial for all of us, especially in the post-holiday winter months, and in particular for adult learners. In this PBS NewsHour conversation, psychiatrist and author Dr. Gregory Scott Brown discusses why “we all need to be not only thinking about mental health, but talking about it as well.” And adult students may face unique challenges to their well-being and academic success such as work and family responsibilities, financial pressures, and the stress of returning to education. Let’s look at some strategies and considerations for supporting others’ mental health, both in and outside of the classroom.  

To support adult learners in the classroom, it’s important to first recognize that education is just one aspect of adult learners’ lives. It is helpful to consider the broader context of life responsibilities for adults in the classroom. Encourage open and positive communication in the learning environment between teacher and students and create a sense of community among learners as well. This could include regular check-ins to not only assess academic progress and well-being, but also to provide a platform for feedback and concerns as well. To further the dialogue in the classroom, check out this must-watch collection of videos and matching discussion questions, You Are Not Alone from KET, which poignantly and sensitively addresses mental health issues among young people.  

In addition to open communication, it is also important to connect learners with mental health resources and other related services and programs.  Having access to tools and information from local partners such as counseling services, financial support and other resource centers will empower adult learners and meet their academic and mental health needs. Addressing mental health and ensuring access to holistic supports and resources is crucial to meet the evolving needs of adult learners and to positively influence their capacity to navigate educational, work and personal experiences.