5 Ways Remote Learning is Causing Student Burnout and How to Help

Gemma Hart is an independent HR consultant working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards connecting with a wider community and sharing her thoughts and advice on workplace wellness and engagement within companies.

Remote learning has become commonplace for students across America. Whether you call it remote learning, distance learning, or online learning, it can lead to burnout and affect students emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

In this article we will discuss the five ways remote learning is causing student burnout and what can be done to help.

High Levels of Stress and Depression

When students learn in a traditional classroom, they can leave their lives behind for the day and focus solely on their studies.

Working remotely makes it difficult to separate studies from personal lives and, as a result, students are experiencing high levels of stress and depression. This makes it increasingly difficult for students to learn, engage effectively, and enjoy good mental health and wellbeing.

Many students have to grapple with these personal struggles in addition to their studies and have to do so with very little support. The isolation caused by remote working tends to exacerbate these problems as it offers little to no escape from the realities of life. As such, rates of student stress and depression are on the rise.

How to Help 

Stress and depression can have extremely negative effects on young people, making it difficult to learn, engage with their peers, and manage their well-being day to day.

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of depression and you want to offer your support, connect them with a professional or consider treatment centers in America that specialize in addressing mental health issues in adolescents. In-person counseling sessions, medications, and holistic treatments can provide much-needed support.

Lack of Structure

We have all experienced the struggle of working from home. It’s so easy to become distracted by the jobs that need doing around the house, the dog that needs to be taken for a walk or the dishes that still need washing up. And before you realize it, half the day has already gone.

Students are struggling with similar problems. Remote work doesn’t have the same structure as in-person classes or lectures. Remote learning requires that students manage their own time and this can be very difficult for some – especially mature students working from home with children or elderly relatives in their care.

As soon as students fall a little bit behind on their assignments, the task of catching up can feel particularly daunting and this can lead to burnout. So, it is important that structures are created where possible. What’s more, teachers and lecturers should be aware that these structures must be flexible depending on the needs of the individual.

How to Help

Providing options for flexible working is one of the best ways to support students struggling with burnout. Some students may find it easier to study in the early hours of the morning or to work late into the evening. Whatever structure works best for the individual is the structure you should aim to provide. This is where pre-recorded lectures come in useful as well as encouraging video messages to struggling students and one-to-one support sessions where necessary. 

Little to No Work Life Balance

Many students are experiencing high levels of burnout because they are struggling to find a suitable work life balance. Whether managing their studies alongside their job or caring for their siblings or parents, remote working has made it increasingly difficult for students to separate their studies from their personal lives.

Having no separation between your work life and personal life can make it extremely difficult to enjoy downtime effectively. Without healthy boundaries, it is easy for students to work for a lot longer and to neglect taking proper breaks or resting when necessary.

In fact, according to NBC News, one study found that remote working students completed more homework, “reporting an average of 90 additional minutes per week.” This only worsens the problem of burnout and makes finding a healthy balance that much harder.

How to Help

Introducing boundaries within the working day is important for preventing burnout and will help protect students’ mental health and well-being. Enforce regular breaks throughout the day. Create a study schedule (these times can be arranged per individual to provide the flexibility required).

And, most importantly, provide the opportunity for students to take a mental health day when neededt. All these things will help prevent and reduce symptoms of burnout, protecting the mental health and well-being of students as they navigate the world of remote working with the right support.

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In this article we will discuss the five ways remote learning is causing student burnout and what can be done to help.


Lack of Technology

According to research, one quarter of low-income students do not have access to a home computer. This makes it impossible to attend lectures remotely and complete homework sent electronically. As such, students lacking the required technology are quickly falling behind their classmates and this is causing significant stress and anxiety.

For many students, the stress caused by the lack of technology and other required resources is what’s causing them to suffer from burnout. Either they have no access to the internet or a home computer or they have to share the use of one computer with other family members. This lack of technology access is widespread and one that needs to be addressed to reduce student burnout in America.

How to Help

Just like employees are provided with computers by their place of employment, so too should students be provided with the technology needed to study and work from home. Schools and other educational institutions should provide computers, laptops, and tablets to students from low-income families who don’t have access to the technology they need.

If this is not possible, due to budget restraints or other reasons, schoolwork should be provided in a printed format or shared in one-to-one tutorial sessions over the phone. It is essential every student has the opportunity to continue their education remotely, regardless of their economic or personal circumstances.

Mental Health Struggles

Over the decade mental health struggles continue to soar and this has been particularly noticeable in students. According to The Ohio State University, “In August 2020, the first time we did the survey, student burnout was at 40%/ In April 2021, it was 71% […] The survey really brought students’ continued mental health struggles to light, and it is crucial that we arm students with the resilience, cognitive-behavioral skills and coping skills that we know are protective against mental health disorders.”

This again highlights what we have all known is the case; that schools provide much-needed community, health and wellness solutions, access to food, counselling support, and so much more that is essential for the mental health and wellbeing of students. Remote working has stripped much of this away and is causing mental health conditions to worsen, leaving many students without the vital support they need.

How to Help

It’s firstly important to raise awareness of the problem and just how significant it is. Then more can be done to allocate the appropriate resources and change policies to ensure they support the well-being of students, whether they remain in the classroom or learning remotely.

Teachers can also provide invaluable support by taking the time to speak with students individually on a regular basis. If this is not possible, numerous mental health apps can provide much-needed professional support and guidance for students going through difficult times.

Final Words

Student burnout is an issue that has been exacerbated by remote learning and enforced isolation. However, whether or not students are required to learn remotely, many strategies can be implemented to provide students with the support they need. We hope this article has offered some helpful solutions.

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