Students’ mental health suffering amid pandemic


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Mental health is a growing issue among schools upon returning back from learning virtually.

Anna Berges, Staff Writer

Learning virtually is completely different than regularly going to school. It takes self-discipline and accountability to get yourself up and moving. This was a huge struggle for students, and caused grades to drop as teachers were not as easily able to influence work being completed.

Upon returning to school, students are now back into the typical education environment. COVID-19 took a toll on a majority of students’ mental health, so making the switch caused anxiety and stress for some.

Social anxiety has increased among students, and being thrown back into an environment with more than 1,400 kids can be overwhelming and discouraging. Although COVID-19 has calmed down a bit, the effects are still being left on students’ everyday life.

The pandemic has forced students to navigate abrupt and continuous changes to their daily routine and to function without the structure that a typical school day provides, according to Wendy Shirk, a licensed master social worker who works here at Decatur.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has put the mental wellness of our youth at risk,” Shirk said. “The pandemic has created a level of trauma for every student, and resulted in increased episodes of anxiety and depression, even in youth who had not previously experienced noteworthy mental wellness concerns.

Coming back to school, students made the social switch. Going from learning by yourself to learning around hundreds of students is a huge change, and can be hard to adjust to.

It is also hard to come back to school socially. Groups form and popularity becomes a huge deal. To other students, this is very intimidating, as they are used to being able to learn completely alone in the comfort of their own homes. The social status of “popular kids” can be self-destructing and affecting their learning abilities.

It is important for students to feel welcomed back into the school atmosphere, as they have not been used to learning this way for over a year. Still, even now, some teachers just stick to using the iPads. Limiting students to a screen can be draining for some, as being on these devices for hours at a time is not healthy.

“Virtual learning was so miserable. Coming into school after having my work ethic affected was hard to adjust to,” sophomore Mya Williamson said.

Not having the structure that we usually get at school, from scheduled classes and due dates, accounts for the lack of motivation.

Psychology teacher Courtney Bova said students still seems to be struggling coming out of quarantine, and now her students seem more reluctant to speak up in class – maybe, she said, it’s because of “post-Zoom stress.”

“I think so many articles and studies thus far have been centered around what being in a global pandemic did to peoples’ mental health,” Bova added, “but understanding that we need to also give grace and have a readjustment period now is something I think we are seeing as teachers across the board.”