This pandemic has affected every single person in the world between financial struggles, health struggles, and mental health struggles. We were all mandated to stay inside and create a new way of life over the course of a few months. How do we cope with that? For some, it may have been easier, but a lot of us were left sinking without anywhere to go. This pandemic has created a hopeless mindset in the heads of many teens across the world. A mental health crisis may just be the next pandemic.
Before we take a look at how the coronavirus pandemic has affected our mental health, we have to understand how everything was before the pandemic. So much has changed since then. Multiple sports, activities, and competitions have had to be canceled over and over again. Many teens are still not able to go to school five days a week. There are still people out of work and receiving unemployment benefits. A lot has changed in America over the past year and were still trying to find ways to cope with this sudden change.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of teens were still struggling with their mental health -- facing everyday anxiety and depression. One student who has graduated, (anonymous) says, “Well I was surely happier before the pandemic, life seemed much easier and school was easier before Covid showed up. I've been quite stressed since the beginning of online stuff and feared being bombarded with more homework and assignments than I could ask for.” This is a great first-person account of the effects the pandemic took had on teens mentally. As they explained, before the pandemic, they were feeling more motivated and healthier. I'm sure a lot of people can relate to that, but the toll it's taking on our mental health is starting to become overwhelming. It's been about a year since the pandemic started and for most teens, it's as if there is no end in sight.
We have lost so much due to this pandemic. Our mental health is affecting us in our everyday lives and we look around and wonder if anyone even notices if we're struggling; we're only teens for so long. One student, Lucy Carosella wrote, “I developed insomnia over the summer and it’s been on and off, but it’s easy to fall asleep during school because all I need is a timer and I can skip class to sleep. It makes me unmotivated to do my work and make it up cause I'm always depressed and can’t get out of bed, or sleep. I used to have good grades and now I'm failing everything, and teachers kinda ignore the online kids in regards to emails or private messages when you ask for help, so there is no support system, and being ignored because I'm virtual makes me feel invisible. I always think ‘if they don’t care when I ask for help, they won’t care if I don’t do my work.'”
So many teens are sharing the same experiences every single day, where these aspects of mental health are getting in the way of completing simple tasks, let alone homework. This pandemic created a wave of unmotivated teens who can't find a purpose because everything we had to work towards and for was taken away -- especially in situations where there is no reward or end in sight, it's extremely difficult to carry on with those tasks. This ideology creates a sense of worthlessness and we teens stuck searching for some kind of meaning and purpose.
This is where it truly started to go downhill. We’re out of school, we’re mandated to stay inside, no sports, no competitions, and no friends. We lost so many experiences in all of those months and we all had no idea this would happen. We sat back for months as we watched our childhoods fly past us. Living that reality every day is terrible, especially knowing and facing the fact that we can’t do anything about it.
The very beginning of the pandemic was a field day for everyone. We all got the call not to come back to school for another two weeks because of coronavirus and we were all delighted. Lucy explains her experience of the start of the pandemic, “I was honestly excited and calm about the whole thing. I didn't mind the way they were doing online school where they assigned things and I did them throughout the day so I felt less pressure and I could get up whenever I pleased. I thought it was just going to be two weeks and I thought not seeing my friends for such little time wouldn’t be bad and I needed a break from school anyway, but I never expected it to last this long and I didn't prepare myself for it either. After the two weeks ended and they told us we needed more time, I started to get worried and upset and that’s when a wave of panic kinda took over.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, we still had hope. We had hope that we would see our friends and teachers again. But every week that went on, we started to lose hope and we were all slowly losing ourselves more and more every day. There's no hope and no end in sight and that creates the mentality of “this will never end”. Since we're stuck in a pandemic with barely any distraction and barely any contact with the public world outside, we're stuck with ourselves all day long. Without any kind of distraction or hope we’re all stuck with ourselves and our thoughts ... thus internalizing the idea of “this is never-ending”.
That can apply to the pandemic or most times the depressed feeling and outlook on life. This student (anonymous) explains her experience. “Definitely got more depressed just because I was limited to doing things I’d normally do and couldn’t go out as much and see everyone. It kept getting more hopeless as things were getting canceled and then never rescheduled” This pandemic has affected us all so much and it's still affecting us on a day-to-day basis.
We’re still in a pandemic but businesses and sports are starting to reopen and start again after being canceled for so many months. But despite everything opening again, a lot of people see no change in their mental state. In fact, some people are finding mental health to continue to get worse and worse and is starting to affect everyday activities like sports, chores, and especially school.
School has had such a major influence on the mental health of teens throughout the pandemic, and even before the pandemic. The pandemic did not create these depressive emotions, it just amplified them. Even though there is a potential vaccine in sight, a lot of students are finding their current mental health is affecting their school work. The lack of motivation and lack of purpose or reason makes doing homework feel like an impossible task. We may be seen as lazy for not getting homework done, but we barely have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
Nearly every person I spoke to all experienced lack of motivation. One student wrote, “School is honestly taking a toll on how I handle things. I get upset and have no motivation to do work, and then when I don't do my work and missing assignments pile up, I just get more and more stressed and more anxious. Every adult around you tells you you're so lucky but online school is hell. Between the constantly depleting mental health and trying to stay focused and so many other things it's really hard to get through the day sometimes.” There is so much going in the world and in our personal lives right now. We need to face the fact that today's teens are in trouble and need help.
Bad grades, depleting mental health, bad diets, missing homework, and terrible sleeping habits are just some of the things teens are going through right now. But there is one major problem; we don't know how to cope healthily.