Features News Volume 69, Issue 7

Students’ Mental Health Since Shelter in Place

by Riley Martin

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community,” said the World Health Organization. Students’ mental health is a vulnerable thing in their highschool experience, and can be tampered with easily.

  The ability to handle stress and be productive has been compromised by the addition of more corona related stress. Freshman Nadya Novichkova said, “Quarantine has affected my mental health by not being able to go out and see friends. I’m stuck in family situations at home and [have] nowhere else to go.” 

Many of the positive impacts have yet to be seen by many students. The positive impact showing itself at the long-awaited time when students are allowed to join with friends once again.  Sophomore Holly McKay said, “I’ve been stuck at home for a week now and I haven’t seen any of my friends, so yes, it really stinks. Hopefully I will be a lot happier to be at school and reconnect with my friends once this is all over.” While the majority of students truly feel the negative consequences, there are some like junior Carly Evans who have come to notice the positive effects. She said, “I am always stressed about school so to have the shelter-in-place is nice with the break and ability to do things on my own time.” She is part of the minority that agrees: the ability to stay home and do work on your own account is better than being at school to do it, regardless of friends. Although this minority would rather stay at home, it does not mean their friends are of any less importance. 

The necessity of human connection through physical appearance has seemed to alter anything positive that can come from this at-home experience. Sophomore Payton Laforteza said, “I’m trying to focus on myself and self care…so I can better myself. That being said, I do miss my friends a lot. Even though I consider myself as an independent person, I do need them in my life with some sort of connection that goes beyond a phone.” People need something more than just digital connection. Many yearn to connect with the seniors, who they do not have as much time left with. Senior Iris McMillian stated her frustration along with disappointment on the matter, “It’s a huge disappointment to those who have worked for 12 years in school towards that one moments when you can walk across the stage and get your diploma. It’s terrible to think that might not happen. The last moments we get to see our friends and teachers have been taken away. It’s awful to have to spend these last meaningful moments of our highschool experience at home with no friends.” Dismay seeps from many seniors as traditions they have been waiting to experience slowly leave the realm of possibility. 

Regardless of the positive effects of working at your own pace at home, physical interaction is a necessary action to maintain your mental health. Canopy Health, a health and wellness center that connects patients to doctors that best suit them said, “Social relationships foster mental health in several ways: Relationships help provide people with purpose and meaning. Your friends and family might encourage positive health behaviors (like following a healthy diet, finding work-life balance, and making regular doctor’s appointments).”