After spending first quarter virtual, Solon High School (SHS) has moved to a hybrid model, and new efforts have been made to support student mental health, such as the addition of the Non-Academic Counseling Center. However, as it has been eight months since the beginning of lockdown, student mental health continues to be affected. Prolonged periods of isolation can have a negative impact on the mental health of teenagers and SHS students are no different.
A survey sent out to SHS students surveyed a total of 262 students. Students were asked to rate their mental health on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best it’s ever been and 1 being the worst it’s ever been, prior to quarantine and currently. Of these students, 149 students said that their mental health has worsened over quarantine.
“COVID has… damaged my ability to socialize, it has increased my anxiety, it has worsened my depression,” one freshman wrote in response to how COVID-19 has specifically impacted her mental health. “Not being able to be near the people I care about has made it a lot harder to be able to care for them, and the same for them caring about me.”
However, not all students feel this way.
“It has improved my life greatly,” one student answered. “During isolation I had a lot of time to reflect upon myself.”
Academically, students had mixed feelings. A number of students mentioned that online learning had made it harder to focus on and understand the material, resulting in grades dropping.
“In terms of education and stress, I’m not doing so great,” one student said. “[It’s] harder to pay attention in class and I don’t understand things as well as I would in class, adding to my stress over tests, grades, etc.”
While some students did mention a noticeable decrease in motivation and work ethic, others noted quite the opposite in an improvement in time management.
“School feels a lot more manageable when you have breaks between classes, and…I’m able to use my time how I feel necessary so I’m able to be a lot more productive,” one student said.
However, many students noticed a decrease in socialization and thus an increase in stress.
“It has made it hard because I can’t be with my friends as much which helps me with my stress,” one sophomore said .
On the other hand, one student noted that she was making an effort to see one close friend more often as a way to maintain the relationship while also minimizing contact. But for another, “It’s definitely been mentally difficult being isolated for so long from so many people that I would normally spend time with,” he said. “This is exacerbated by the fact that I’m more cautious about COVID-19 than many other high schoolers, so I spend even less time in potentially exposing situations.”
Overall, based off of the survey results, isolation, deadlines, not understanding the material and lack of motivation all contribute to the stress students feel. What’s happening now is something no one could have predicted.
“Mental health is a constant moving circle,” as one student said. “It will never be just good or just bad times; while some phases might last longer than others, things will always keep moving forward.”