NEWS: COVID affecting high school students mental health

By Juliana Lopez

Something I believe we neglect or brush off as not important is teenagers’ mental health. Not only are the adults going through a very stressful time, but the students are also being affected, as well. Everyone’s lives are currently being put on pause.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, most people spent their time at home to prevent the spread. This restricted a lot of people from doing what they usually do, for example going out with friends, seeing family, playing sports, and many other activities that put you in contact with others. 

Many people during this time are experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and grief due to the loss of loved ones, loss of connections with others, school, being by themselves more often, and simply just being alone. In a survey that The Spectator conducted, about 76.9 percent of the people expressed that they felt down due to the fact that they felt alone. Around 61.5% of the people also said their mental health was affected due to not being able to see their friends and family. Half of those surveyed said that not being able to do the things they are passionate about also had a part in their stress and 42.3 percent said their stress is linked to family issues including strict parent, broken families, loss of relatives, and other familial issues. The other responses included not being able to travel, missing out on social events, loss of grandparents, who they become because of this pandemic, and the overall stress of everything that is going on.

I conducted another survey with students, asking them how they would rate their mental health before and after quarantine on a scale of 1-10. The majority said they ranked their mental health a six before quarantine and the second most common response tied with seven and nine. In the other survey on how students felt after quarantine/during quarantine, the majority rated their mental health a three, and the second most common response was a four. Compared to the before and after results, it clearly shows that the majority experienced a decline in their mental health because of quarantine. On the topic of quarantine, 92.3 percent of the people who took the survey voted yes to the question, “Did quarantine affect your mental health?” A follow-up question I asked in the survey was, “Now that we’re back at school, does school add more stress and worsen your mental health?”  76.9 percent answered yes that school added more stress and worsened their mental health. 

I left a text box for people to vent and talk about their experiences during quarantine. The following quotes are from students attending Batavia High School.

“Quarantine really took a toll on many people’s mental health including mine. Obviously having some time off of school was good and eased a lot of stress. an extensive break had its pros and cons. I had time to myself and had much more time spent with family,” Anjylina Salinas said. 

“It’s been so lonely since COVID for me, my parents are on the stricter side when it comes to socializing in a pandemic so I haven’t been able to see a lot of people. the times that I have gotten to see my friends have been a lot different than what it was like before so it’s a big adjustment. like I can’t go inside other people’s houses or inside stores or anything, I have to stay kind of far away from my friends and always wear a mask. Which I totally understand but it does kinda suck. have you noticed that nobody talks in class anymore? Last year teachers were constantly telling us to shut up and this year you could literally hear a pin drop in any of my classes. Also, it sucks that I’ve been waiting for my freshman year basically my entire life and it feels like it got taken away from me – all the things I was really looking forward to, like homecoming, school musical, going to football games, and school events, has all been canceled or modified in a way to make it safer but less fun. I’ve tried so hard to be positive through this whole thing and there are for sure silver linings but I feel like this has just hit me so hard and it’s exhausting,” said Lily Mamminga.

Most of the students who expressed how they felt in this section mainly expressed how they were looking forward to school events, events in their own life, how things were taken away from them, feeling out of control, not feeling like themselves, being upset about how some people has handled the pandemic irresponsibly and basically how everything isn’t the same. This is just a small insight into how some of our peers feel during this time. We never really know what is happening behind closed doors and we will never know the true extent of someone’s problems. 

I would just like to say, be considerate of others and think about how your actions can affect other people. Check-in on your loved ones and let them know that you care. Everyone’s feelings are valid but some people truly were hit hard because of the pandemic due to the loss of loved ones, relapsing into bad habits, going back to a version of themselves that they never wanted to go back to, and dealing with personal matters at home. 

Even with the circumstances in our world today, many students were taught many lessons during this time and some people found quarantine a great time to find out more about themselves such as their sexuality, who they are as a person, caught up with their favorite shows, getting more sleep, exercising, finding their style, picked up new/old hobbies and interests and many more. 

I left an optional section for the people who took the survey to leave tips and things that kept their mental health balanced. People said that talking to friends helped a lot, trying new hobbies and simply trying to find many activities to keep yourself busy helped them cope with everything going on. The CDC website about “Stress and Coping” recommends that if you’re feeling overwhelmed, try taking breaks to unwind, find a safe way to connect with loved ones, take care of yourself and your body by working out and eating healthy. Basically, the CDC recommends self-care. Try doing things for yourself and do things that make you happy. It’s okay to take a break and spend time working on yourself. There is no shame in seeking/wanting help. Every now and then some people need guidance in life.

 

Resource Page:

Hotlines

National Suicide Prevention Lifelineexternal icon: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chatexternal icon.

National Domestic Violence Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

National Child Abuse Hotlineexternal icon: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453

 

Websites 

For Coping:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/stress-coping/care-for-yourself.html

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/education-awareness/shareable-resources-on-coping-with-covid-19.shtml

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