Following the recent COVID-19 pandemic, students, administrators, teachers, and parents from around the world have been forced to switch to virtual learning to hinder the spread of the virus; the same is true for Fair Lawn High School. As many continue to work to re-adjust to a “new normal” in our schools, distance learning has proven especially difficult for students’ mental health.
Despite all of the many challenges distance learning brings, one distinct challenge is the issue of student mental health during the lockdown. Rising concerns regarding the mental health of children and teens have been at the forefront of on-going discussions centered on child development, technology, and social media for some time even before the pandemic. Now however, COVID-19 has helped re-ignite concerns regarding student mental health as school-age kids find themselves more isolated than ever before.
"If you are a kid who's been attending school in the traditional way, in-person, and now you have to shift…that's new. That's stressful," said Dr. Mark Edelstein, child, and adolescent psychiatrist and medical director of Uplift Family Services.
"That is something that we can expect to cause some degree of anxiety. Maybe just mild. Maybe a lot," Edelstein said.
As some schools prepare to reopen, parents, teachers, and administrators are already observing signs of mental health concerns among students.
“The new 2020-2021 school year has proven difficult for me because now I am at home all day on virtual learning, and have to look after and help my younger sister while my mom is at work,” said a Fair Lawn High School senior.
One survey by Young Minds, a nonprofit organization dedicated to childhood and adolescent mental and emotional development research and advocacy, showed that 83% of young students agreed that the pandemic worsened pre-existing mental conditions, mainly because of school closures, loss of routine, and restricted social connections, as well as the absence of human interaction.
“I can’t believe I am going to say this, but I would rather be at school. I can say emotionally, my teachers have been very helpful and caring, which I love the most,” a 15-year-old student from Queens, New York said.
Many students continue to seek advice regarding how to cope with feelings of anxiety and depression during the pandemic.
“Find a way you feel comfortable speaking up because ignoring is not going to help. That’s going to make it worse,” said Fair Lawn Guidance Counselor Anthony Guttilla.
“You’re really not alone, lots of people are struggling,” Guttilla said.
Resources and helplines are available through the community for all those continuing to struggle with mental health concerns, which are sure to remain in the near future as the pandemic continues to rage and we enter the colder Fall and Winter months. Anyone facing mental health challenges should contact The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Admin Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). However, talking to someone like a friend, parent, or counselor, even via Zoom or FaceTime, can often be a helpful solution as well in order to get something off one’s chest.
“To de-stress, I try to keep myself busy, doing anything from cleaning, drawing, reading, and always surrounding myself with people, that helps me a lot,” said a Fair Lawn High School freshman.
Banner Credit: Calm Sense Therapy
Thumbnail Credit: Prevail Intervention