COVID Brings Decline in Mental Health

Ava Wells, Staff

Out of 103 students surveyed from Holdrege High School, 52 percent of them reported COVID-19 has affected their mental health. This is a shockingly high statistic and is also very upsetting knowing there are lasting effects for a multitude of students. From shutdowns in March, forced to stay inside, to having everything start back up full force in August, this has been one crazy year. Because of this, it is no surprise the effect on teenagers is significant.

The original lockdown in March was never expected to last as long as it did. We even planned on being back in class before the school year officially ended.  Many teens adapted their priorities to fit the situation they were in. As school shut down, education became a lower priority for many people. Now that school has resumed, many of the things, such as friends, out of school activities, and family occasions, that were prioritized above school have caused more stress among students. Junior Reycelyn Robinson said, “motivation to do anything now is lacking.”  Being home by yourself for such a long period of time is immensely draining and also causes a lack of motivation among teens.  Another problem that COVID has created among teenagers is the increasing feelings of loneliness and isolation. Robinson stated, “COVID has made me feel very isolated from everyone else by being home and away from everyone for so long.” 

These changes have also affected the personalities of many teenagers and along with their physical states. Freshman Matt Garringer said, “I feel more dreary and blah overall.” He also stated that now he is, “. . . .more tired than I’ve ever been.” This is a common effect the pandemic is causing. Many teens feel a lot more drained of energy than they did in March before the pandemic hit and shut everything down. According to the article by councilonrecover.org, “How is COVID Affecting Teen Mental Health?” Because of the pandemic, students lost the structure of school time, and when coupled with a lack of parental support, this left students to navigate on their own. This led to odd sleeping patterns and overall dysregulation, which can impact coursework, family relationships, and mental health.” It is hard for motivation to be regained because the pandemic has caused such a drop in energy from everyone. Being by yourself and away from your friends as well as having many activities that teens were actively participating in shut down, suddenly has been a cause of this. Robinson stated, “Ever since the pandemic hit, I’ve been focusing on the negatives rather than on the positives.” There are plenty of negatives to notice since the beginning of the COVID outbreak, but because of these negatives, teens have found resources to help them get through this trying time.

Many teenagers have found ways to look past the negatives that COVID has created and focus on the positives and improve their mental health. Freshman Brayden Keffler said, “I try to find things I enjoy to do; I joke around and have fun.” He also stated, “I try and find one thing in every class to enjoy.” Reycelyn Robinson also takes steps to improve her mental health, “I take at least an hour to myself everyday to just listen to music and do things I love like singing, dancing and making different things.” Matthew Garringer also reported that the arts help him as well,  “Listening to music and playing music helps me out a lot.” As every teenager is different, teenagers should be encouraged to find something to help them personally. Some suggestions from different students include: taking time for yourself everyday, surrounding yourself with positive people who will push you to do your best, and reaching out  to a friend or a trusted adult if you need to. Garringer said, “I encourage other students to find something they enjoy and to never let go of it.” On another positive note, Keffler stated, “Just keep pushing because it will matter in the long run.” As stated in the article, “Strategies for Increasing Motivation,” by verywellmind.com, “Focus on the journey not the outcome, constantly fixating on the outcome, on success or failure, can seriously impair motivation. There are resources out there for everyone to help them if they keep looking and pushing through.

Since the middle of March a great deal of circumstances have changed for everyone. Whether it’s friendships or even just the routine of our daily lives, many of these changes have unfortunately affected the mental well-being of teens. But as we continue to battle through the effects of COVID-19, we have to explore different resources that benefit each of us individually. We also have to remind ourselves that it is okay to ask for assistance when things get too heavy to handle. Mental health is essential to everyone, and if you are struggling personally, remember your feelings and emotions are valid.