School has been cancelled for the remainder of the school year and whether there is school or not students will always struggle with their mental health.
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood,” said MentalHealth.org
As of March 13, the governor announced a stay at home order in the state of Virginia. Alongside it, schools across Virginia were shut down for the remainder of the school year and everybody has been urged to stay at home as much as possible.
Many students were excited for school to be let out, but as students are now left with over 30 hours a week of extra time, many have lost resources and mentors who help them get through the mental health challenges teenagers go through and are left to their own devices to sort through these issues.
A lot of people’s opinions and perspectives have changed about quarantine since it was first announced.
“I felt that others were being naive by being excited by the fact schools were closing because I knew that the worst was yet to come,” said Godwin sophomore Sarah Gutzmer.
“I do actually miss it [school] a lot. It is weird not getting to see people everyday,” said Godwin sophomore Bella Geary.
Both students have felt more lonely because they can’t see friends as often as they would during a normal school week.
According to behavioral researchers, 25 percent of teenagers are affected by anxiety according to researchers at the Behavioral Health Organization.
Even though the stress of going to school is gone, there are still stressors for both Gutzmer and Geary. They are worried about the state of their health and the effectiveness of the online classes they are in.
“I believe that quarantine could possibly be affecting student’s mental health in many different ways. There are probably students that are anxious and worried about their health and their families health. There are probably students that may be struggling with depression being isolated from friends and people outside of their immediate family. Everyone is losing out on activities and their normal, which is difficult and really causes us to use strong coping skills,” said by Godwin school counsellor Karis Hunt.
“I’m just as stressed in quarantine as I was out of it. Quarantine has made me more anxious about my safety, but it is much nicer to not have to stick to a routine with school every week,” said Gutzmer.
“I am feeling more anxiety right now, just for a different reason. Online school stresses me out, because I’m not really learning, and I don’t get to interact with classmates or teachers,” said Geary
Though there are office hours for teachers throughout the week, it is hard to work up the incentive to do the actual work.
“I hugely lack motivation in online classes because I feel like it is hard to learn without teachers physically being there which has made it a struggle,” said Gutzmer.
“It is very possible that online classes may be increasing anxiety. The separation from teachers, peers and struggling with using technology in a different way may cause increased anxiety,” said Hunt.
Finding good coping strategies have kept them sane. Some of the coping mechanisms they have been using are eating, joy rides in the car, listening to music, talking to friends, and trying to be creative. Hunt also has some suggestions for coping with quarantine.
“There are a lot of mindfulness apps on your phone that you can download. Henrico County also has mental health services available through telehealth options. Henrico Co Mental Health can be accessed at 727-8515 or 727-454,” said Hunt.
Talking about mental illness is always hard, and talking about it right now can be more difficult because you can feel isolated from all of the people that are usually around you.
“I love to talk about it [mental health] but sometimes I feel embarrassed,” said Gutzmer.
Quarantine can be stressful, but your mental health should be in the forefront of your mind. We will adjust and become stronger.
“One thing about our students is that they are resilient. Our Eagle Community is strong and comes together. We will adapt to a new normal together,” said Hunt.
If you need to talk to someone about your mental health please call one of these numbers.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
The Samaritans: (877) 870-4673
Boys Town National Hotline: 800-448-3000