Will the increased time spent inside this winter impact students’ mental health?


Portrait of young woman looking out window

Sophia Giallanza, News Editor

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an increase in the amount of time students are spending inside. With the impending winter season, a major concern is the detrimental effects on students’ mental health due to increased time spent indoors and away from loved ones.  

Solon High School Freshman – Juliet Dowling-Coll – elaborated on her experience this winter. She feels seeing her peers less (due to COVID-19 concerns) has impacted her mentally. 

“I feel like seeing my friends everyday at school was beneficial to my mental health,” said Dowling-Coll. “Now that I have been stuck inside so much, I’ve felt very overwhelmed. With the nice weather, we at least had the ability to get together outside, but now seeing people is becoming much more difficult.” 

Dowling-Coll further exclaims that this, along with the pressure of completing school at home, is very mentally draining. She believes that associating home, a place that was previously seen as destressing, with the anxieties of school is not mentally healthy. 

Another SHS student, Grainne Crawmer, shared her thoughts on spending more time inside and how it has been detrimental to her mental health. 

“I think my mental health has been negatively impacted by staying inside so much during winter because I’ve been much more anxious and sad,” said Crawmer. “Also, I’ve had a lack of motivation to do basic things.”   

Crawmer was not alone in terms of her lack of motivation. Many other students have reported that they feel monumentally less motivated to complete assignments, do well on tests – and overall care about the material they are learning.  

On the other hand, some students feel their mental health has actually been improved by being inside so often. Senior Braden Chapnick shared his experience with this increased time at home. 

“Honestly, it [being inside] doesn’t bother me,” said Chapnick. “I’m a homebody, so I like being at home, I feel like the change of pace in this different environment like online school gives me more time to do homework, more freedom, like making my own lunch and working out, helps my mental health.” 

Chapnick exclaims that he feels more productive being inside. He believes that this has actually been good for his mental health because it feels similar to a stress free break.  

However, mental health professionals, such as Solon High School’s psychologist, Valarie Smith, feel that increased time spent inside often will do more harm than good.  

“I believe that being inside due to the weather and with the restrictions due to COVID, teenagers are struggling emotionally,” said Smith, “It is hard to connect with peers and continue with socializing when there are limited outlets available right now. Teens may start feeling depressed, anxious – and have a hard time leaving their bedroom when they are not able to leave their homes.”   

Smith, who has experience with adolescent mental health, shared her thoughts on how students can attempt to combat this issue during the winter season. 

“It is important for teens to schedule time to Facetime and connect with peers over technology,” said Smith. “It is also important to get outside as much as possible, even for a short walk to enjoy the fresh air.”