Sleepless Nights and Isolation: The Pandemic’s Effect on Students Mental Health
by Veronica Paez
As of March, 13, 2020 almost all schools across the country have been closed, and the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives of so many including students. Kids have had to completely change their everyday routines and adapt to the new rules. Instead of going to school and seeing all of their friends in person, they grab their laptops and go to school on Zoom. Since the pandemic students have had to spend over 6 hours looking at their computer screen. No one could see each other for months, everyone was quarantined. This drastic change took a toll on most kids' mental health.
According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, “Social isolation, removal from school and daily routines, as well as isolation and loss associated with illness are some of the top stressors children are facing.”According to Data Statistics on Children’s Mental Health from the CDC 7.4% of children aged 3-17, which is approximately 4.5 million, have been diagnosed with behavior problems, around 4.4 million have been diagnosed with anxiety, and around 1.9 million students have diagnosed depression.
Students struggling with their mental health during the pandemic often felt alone and didn’t feel comfortable or were afraid to seek help from a professional. Inside Higher Ed remarks, “As students struggle, they may hear about counseling center support but not take further action.” Most of them hear about it but never go through with actually seeking help: “Hudson, a 19-year-old college freshman who has anxiety and depression that’s been amplified during the pandemic, has struggled deeply too. Being apart from everyone and the year of lockdowns leave him alone and inside too often.”
A high school senior at Orchard Collegiate Academy named Angelina Páez told me how the pandemic really hurt their mental health. Since everyone was quarantined they couldn’t see their therapist which caused them to have breakdowns and panic attacks.
A survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and Collage Pulse and presented by Kaplan shows that into a year of the pandemic, around 65 percent of students have reported to have fair to poor mental health.
I talked to a seventh grader named Carmen Jansons at East Side Community High School, and she said, “I think before I wasn’t as stressed about school, I did have other problems but now because of the pandemic I have been stressed out way more, I would lose sleep, etc.” This anxiety that students get from remote learning keeps students such as Carmen up at night.
The CDC has found that children’s mental health-related visits to emergency rooms have been up as much as 25%.
I asked Carmen if the pandemic had a positive or negative impact on her mental health and she responded by saying that in a way it was positive, and it made her realize that she should see a professional for help, but the isolation also really hurt her mental health and lowered her self esteem. Carmen also shared with me her opinion on remote learning: “I loved remote learning, I got to wake up late and then go to online classes. The thing is the schedules were weird and it didn’t feel like real school.”
The Miami Herald states, “The pandemic’s one-two combination of isolation and unpredictability is especially injurious to adolescents and teens who feed on social interaction and trusted routines for personal growth.” It is extremely hard for teens to adapt to this change. Another seventh grader at East Side Community High School Laylah Holder's mental health became worse once the pandemic hit because of a lack of socialization. Laylah said that, “I was such a social person before the pandemic had started, but when it hit, it was like I hit a wall and I wasn’t able to socialize.”
Just imagine hanging out with your friends one day and then a couple of days later you are in a pandemic and school is cancelled, and you can’t see your friends and other family members because everyone is quarantined. It's a lot to handle and process.
Students have had to deal with lockdown/quarantine, virtual learning, and isolation. A lot of them felt lonely and overwhelmed by everything going on in school and the rest of the world. The Miami Herald continued, “We are seeing substantial increases in the number of kids visiting emergency rooms for mental health treatment or receiving psychiatric services”
Children all across the world have been going through the same thing, and most have been doing remote learning for a little over a year. Students like Laylah, Carmen, and Angelina all hit rough patches in their mental health when the pandemic hit, and so did others. Many have felt alone in these times when in reality they’re not. There are adults and professionals that can help in these types of situations.
National Helpline tel:1-800-662- HELP (4357)
National suicide prevention hotline 800-273-8255