Covid-19 affects students’ mental health

Mya Padilla, Staff Writer

As Covid-19 has swept through the country, it has shut down schools, restaurants, clubs, sports, and other opportunities to socially gather with friends and family. Many people have been stressed and on edge, whether it’s the decreased amount of time to spend with family and friends, the fear of catching the virus, or giving it to a loved one. 

   According to Wiley Online Library, “A pandemic is not just a medical phenomenon; it affects individuals and society and causes disruption, anxiety, stress, stigma, and xenophobia. The behavior of an individual as a unit of society or a community has marked effects on the dynamics of a pandemic that involves the level of severity, degree of flow, and aftereffects.1 Rapid human‐to‐human transmission of the disease resulted in the enforcement of regional lockdowns to stem the further spread of the disease. Isolation, social distancing, and closure of educational institutes, workplaces, and entertainment venues consigned people to stay in their homes to help break the chain of transmission.” 

We should always talk about our mental health. If you are worried that you are struggling, you should talk with your family and other trusted adults such as your counselor. We all want to help you early in the struggle.

— Counselor Jamie Jackson

    The CDC  website says that the “coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.”  The CDC has also said, “A broad body of research links social isolation and loneliness to poor mental health, and data from late March shows that significantly higher shares of people who were sheltering in place (47%) reported negative mental health effects resulting from worry or stress related to coronavirus than among those not sheltering-in-place (37%).”

   Teenagers  are experiencing loneliness in isolation, in some cases causing physical effects such as increase in heart rate, hyperventilation, lightheadedness, or sometimes nausea. Many of our own students feel the lack of socialization has had a great effect on their mental health, including depression, anxiety, and social anxiety. Sophomore Kelley Harris agreed that her mental health has suffered through the required quarantine and social distancing. 

“I feel depressed and lonely,” she said.

    Some students are dealing with an increase in social anxiety due to their fear of virus transmission, but also the lack of opportunities to practice socializing. 

   “I found myself with a massive load of social anxiety. I was isolated from social events, loved ones, and things that make me go out into the world,” sophomore Zach Simmons said. “Without that for months, I had massive anxiety about hanging out with someone. Partly due to the risk of getting the virus, but mainly because I forgot how to be social. Even hanging out with people I felt the closest to, it became terrifying to leave the house.” 

  “I am now getting back in the rhythm of things, and it’s improving day by day,” Simmons said.

   School counselor, Jamie Jackson shared symptoms of anxiety and depression to keep in mind as we move into another season of social distancing.

   “Students start to lose interest in activities, friends, and family. They start sleeping more or less, eating more or less, and not having confidence in themselves,” Jackson said.  

Jackson adds to this list the importance of reaching out to trusted adults, like a parent, teacher, or counselor.

      The Anxiety and Depression Association of America  (ADAA) published some ways to calm nerves and decrease anxiety. The ADAA suggests taking time out to listen to music, practice yoga, meditate, or exercise. They encourage people to have healthy, balanced meals and get adequate sleep to keep your body energized. It is important to limit caffeine and alcohol which can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks. To calm yourself down some in a particularly stressful moment, try counting to ten and taking slow, deep breaths.

   “We should always talk about our mental health. If you are worried that you are struggling, you should talk with your family and other trusted adults such as your counselor. We all want to help you early in the struggle,” Jackson said. “It can and will get better. Students learn coping skills, positive self talk, relaxation techniques, and other self-care strategies. In my opinion, teens are dealing with a great deal during high school and all the while their hormones are also changing. So the more self-help strategies you learn early, then the more confident and self-aware they can be. Everyone needs these skills. Quarantine may be  impacting teens’ mental health, but  keeping in touch with others, even if it is only over Facetime or text, might make people feel better and  help with loneliness. It’s important to keep in contact with friends and family to make sure you are still maintaining social skills and asking for help and support when you need it.”

   The importance of mental health in teenage students should never be ignored and should always be handled with the utmost respect, maturity, and acceptance especially if it is coming from stressful activities. It’s good to be aware of all your options when dealing with it such as talking to your doctor about medication, therapy, or discuss developing coping mechanisms to help. There is a responsibility to yourself and the people around you to improve your health. Your mind and your body should always come first.