2020. This is a year that no one will ever forget. It’s the year that brought us wildfires, floods, hurricanes, violence, an election, and most notable, the worldwide pandemic known as the coronavirus. COVID-19 has altered the lives of so many, and brought us to what we now know to be the “new normal”.
This virus has brought fear, anxiety, stress, worry, and so many other emotions to everyone around the world. One of the many groups of people who have been affected are the students, no matter the age. Something this big, scary, and unknown can cause students to face struggles like never before, and can cause them to struggle with their mental health.
This school year so far has been like no other. From having school all online, to transitioning into hybrid, it has been a lot for students to handle because change is something that isn’t easy, and can oftentimes cause struggles. The mental health and well being of students from all across the world has been affected because of these unprecedented times that we are in. The stress of what our world is going through right now, the changes to our daily routines, and the fear of what the future will look like, can be a lot for anyone to handle. The World Health Organization in Europe expressed that “If schools have closed as part of necessary measures, then children may no longer have that sense of structure and stimulation that is provided by that environment, and now they have less opportunity to be with their friends and get that social support that is essential for good mental well-being.”
The Spotlightinterviewed some students at BV West to see how all of these changes have affected their mental health, and see if they have any advice for others who may be struggling.
When the school year began, it was all virtual school, it was a lot for most students to handle, with the mental strain of staring at a screen for hours on end, to learning how to succeed in the new virtual environment. Junior Audrey Weaver would agree, as she is now in what is known as one of the hardest years in high school. All of these changes to our school schedule because of COVID can’t be making it any easier.
“School has stressed me out the most it ever has this semester, and I always knew junior year would be difficult but I never expected it to be this much work piled on work,” said Weaver. “I have barely any time to take a moment to breathe.” Learning how to manage school work at home can be very stressful and challenging because it can be hard to find the motivation to do your work while there’s no teacher with you holding you accountable. This can lead students to procrastinate and get behind in school which causes even more stress and anxiety on top of what is going on in their lives.
While having classes online can harm our mental health, there are some aspects of it that aren’t all that bad. Weaver explained that virtual school has helped with her sleep schedule which in turn can help her relax more than usual, however it doesn’t eliminate the stress completely.
“I can sleep in until my class and nap during the school hours if I’m done with my work. It’s helped me relax a lot more but at nights I get hit with a wave of stress that totally ruins my mood and I get so overwhelmed,” said Weaver.
Weaver would agree that one of the things that has helped students who struggle with their mental health, has been the new hybrid schedule.
“Some kids aren’t in the healthiest of households and school would be an escape for them, so with hybrid they can let go and take a break from the chaos at home,” said Weaver. “People need people and they can’t be cooped up in a house all week without losing their mind.”
Weaver explained that It has helped her personally because going to school in person has helped eliminate distractions, like her dog or bed, that would get in the way of her school work while at home, which helps her focus and learn better. Some of the ways that she deals with stress related to school is to watch movies, play with her dog, and to take naps because it helps her get rid of bad energy.
Senior Izzy Diepand senior Nick Edwards, who is one of the leaders of Sources Of Strength at BV West, shared their take on how virtual classes have been affecting student’s mental health. With the pressure of finishing high school right, along with applying to college, a pandemic definitely wasn’t what seniors were planning on dealing with this year.
“It’s important to recognize that every single teenager is in a different situation right now and that everyone is going through something completely different every day of the week” said Edwards, “Even if you don’t have your friends at your lunch table anymore, there are always other resources for you if you need someone to talk to.”
Online school was a shift that was new to everyone, and one that affected everyone differently. Attending class locked in your room while staring at a screen would make anyone feel alone, and it’s at times like this that making an effort to reach out to friends and other classmates is so important.
“It felt like I was losing friends when I wasn’t,” said Diep, regarding the lack of communication that quarantine and online school had left her feeling. “I feel like all virtual is a little bit more stressful because you have to go on to your zoom meetings and like I said earlier, you have to get all the work done on your own time.”
Online school made it a lot easier for students to fall behind, and to get overwhelmed. It also made it easier for students to spend hours stuck inside, which already has a negative impact on anyone physically, let alone mentally. Edwards made a good point when talking about how just going outside in between zooms, helped elevate his mood and productivity that day.
Edwards would agree that the hybrid system is helping students who could be suffering with their mental health, and not learning as well as they could. While going to school only half the time may not have been the ideal for most students, it’s something that already is furthering student’s education and connections here at BV West more than it had been at the start of this year.
“I think being able to see our friends and develop/have a more consistent relationship with our teachers as well has helped strengthen my mental health,” said Edwards.
Hybrid has helped both of these seniors cope with the unfortunate state that our country is in right now, and has been a good way to have at least a little bit of a normal senior year. While it may not be a senior homecoming, or a final football game, just being able to be back in the building has been a great touch of normalcy back in seniors’ lives.
In times like this anxiety is at an all time high, and mental health at a low. Seniors, freshmen, teachers, anyone at any and every age is experiencing something they never have before with COVID. Don’t forget that staff members and students are always there if you or a peer ever need anyone to reach out to. While online or hybrid may not be the ideal among students, BV West is heading in a positive direction and only improving, as is the mental health of their students.