AccScience Publishing / GHES / Volume 1 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.36922/ghes.1219
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Self-directed online learning in support of students’ mental health to promote positive psychosocial outcomes in public schools

Carol Nash1*
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1 History of Medicine Program, Department of Psychiatry, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 1A1, Canada
Submitted: 1 July 2023 | Accepted: 28 August 2023 | Published: 26 September 2023
© 2023 by the Author(s). This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( )

Negative mental health among students is currently categorized as a global crisis, and those at both ends of the academic achievements are considered at greatest risk. Public schooling, reproducing accepted psychosocial beliefs through standardized learning, has traditionally evolved independently of the imperative to address student mental health. Unlike standardized learning, self-directed learning in public schools aims to establish relevant support structures for student mental health, thereby promoting positive psychosocial outcomes. The detachment of public schooling from mental health and self-directed learning was first acknowledged – and lamented – by John Dewey over 100 years ago, who anticipated the ubiquity of the present-day mental health crisis. However, as a response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions, self-directed learning became an acknowledged learning method in public schools, potentially able to be regularly accommodated by them in support of mental health through the use of online technology. This review investigates the results of self-directed online learning in public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic through a Google Scholar search of peer-reviewed studies on self-directed learning, online learning, mental health, and public schools during COVID-19. The findings suggest that, for self-directed online learning to continue and positively impact public school students’ mental health post-COVID-19, it should be embraced without bias, supported by stable internet connections, and self-initiated with relaxed parental expectations regarding standardized learning.

Mental health
Self-directed learning
Online learning
Public schools
Psychosocial outcomes

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Conflict of interest
The author declares having no competing interests.
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