Our guest blogger is Dr. Victor Tejera, Ed.D, LCSW, ACSW and T.R.U.S.T specialist at Miami Southridge Senior High School. He is an expert in student mental wellness and serves on the SAVE Promise Club School Advisory Committee. Here he shares tips on how you can help lonely students.
Helping lonely students is possible. At my school, we have the Interact Club. We use the SAVE Promise Club model to address school safety. In addition to that, we’re helping students who may be lonely and anyone who needs a sense of safety and support.
Impact and Statistics: Student Loneliness
Students who are lonely can experience high rates of stress, anxiety, and depression. In some cases, they have thoughts of hurting themselves or others. Severe rejection and isolation can result in students thinking of hurting others.
As a matter of fact, a recent study found school shooters share one trait that may be rooted in loneliness. It’s a history of chronic rejection combined with an acute rejection experience, such as a bad breakup or public humiliation.
How to Deal with Loneliness at School
There are many ways to help. One is being supportive. You don’t necessarily have to just strike up a conversation. You can just simply sit near the person, say “hello” or present yourself in a way of care. Creating a culture of inclusivity with your student body helps also create a safer school, a more positive school culture, and offer more opportunities for an isolated student to feel supported.
Additionally, you can encourage students to know that they can just be themselves and help highlight their abilities and skills. You may have someone that’s an artist. Maybe they can create a nice poster? This might help another student identify and relate. A great program to help with these situations is the Start With Hello program.
Say Goodbye to Loneliness and “Start With Hello”
What’s great about Start With Hello is that it’s already there. You don’t have to do anything but simply access the information, assess how you can implement it in your school, and take action. The program is available for all students K-12 and it can be implemented in the community as well. Students with a Trusted Adult in their life have much better outcomes in productivity, joy, and emotions.
This doesn’t mean they have to have a licensed therapist next to them the whole time. This is someone that just establishes rapport. That means highlighting an interest, creating a sense of safety where that student can come in and just be themselves. The Sandy Hook Promise Digital Learning Center has activities, afterschool ideas, concepts, and more for you to help and enhance the Trusted Adult experience at your program and our school.