During the unprecedented time that the COVID-19 pandemic has burdened the world, everyone has faced unique challenges. Specifically, students are suffering and their mental health is declining as a result of the combination of isolation and the challenges of virtual learning. With limited resources for students to turn to, this is a problem that can’t be overlooked.
Quarantine has significantly reduced social contact, which is a necessity for individuals' well-being. Although social distancing is needed to prevent the spread of the virus, it’s certainly difficult to have to stay away from friends, family, and activities. For students, these people and events were an integral part of their daily lives, but are now on pause, and students were thrust into this adjustment. Therefore, it is imperative that we make efforts to stay in touch with friends and family whether it is remotely or in a socially distanced environment, and try to keep ourselves surrounded by what brings us happiness.
Virtual learning impacts the mental health of students in various ways. Not only is it unfamiliar territory, and can be seen as harder to handle, staring at a screen all day, it also increases students’ anxiety about returning to school. Being on zoom for hours is straining, but the loads of homework we have after school limits free time and leaves students staring at the same screen with no time to unwind. This being said, as students, we have to remember to take time for ourselves during the day to relax and take a break from all of the stress of the day.
Additionally, mental health resources are limited for students. Despite some options of online meetings with counselors or therapists, there’s a lack of trust that develops from not being in-person. We are used to meeting in privacy, that it is harder to speak honestly when other people in the house couldt be listening. For example, the Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) addressed this issue, including student statements, such as one by Katherine Huang, who said:
“It is sometimes suffocating to sit in a space where my negative emotions have just been uprooted from a counseling session and then immediately having to attend a Zoom class in that same space. I am always afraid someone will enter the room amidst my session, discouraging me from being completely honest which in turn contradicts the progress I may have made previously.”
Personally, I have definitely felt the negative impacts from the pandemic on my mental health, while simultaneously watching others go through similar experiences. Staying focused on zoom can be difficult, making virtual learning even harder. It’s very easy to get lost in the lesson, which also increases stress. It is sad not to be able to spend time with family and friends that I am used to seeing everyday, and anxiety about what returning to school will look like is evident in my mind as well as many others.
It is vital that we spread attention towards the mental health of students as stress, anxiety, depression, etc. are increasing. With COVID-19 cases rising, and another quarantine in the possible future, staying informed about the dangers the pandemic poses to mental health is essential for preventing a decline in our well-being.