Mental Health in a Pandemic: Worries from Students and Words from Experts

The COVID-19 Pandemic is negatively affecting student’s mental health.

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Photo by Jennifer Argo

Jennifer Argo, Staff Writer

Staring at screens for 10 hours a day and not being able to hug family members or friends is detrimental to a person’s mental health. According to The Harvard Gazette, as the number of deaths increases, the number of people being diagnosed with anxiety and depression increases along with it. Mental health is a topic that many people don’t take seriously, but in reality, it affects everyone. 

In that same article by The Harvard Gazette, professor of the practice of global mental health Shekhar Saxena said, “COVID is impacting the older age group more, but anxiety and depression are being faced by the young adults much more, which is exactly the opposite of what we’ve seen in some of the earlier crises. It’s the young adults and the children who are being impacted and the effects are going to be long-lasting.”

It’s common to cope with stress through alcohol and drug use and keeping your schedule filled, but those aren’t healthy coping mechanisms. Examples of healthy ways to manage your stress are educating yourself about COVID-19, wearing masks, avoiding alcohol and drugs, going to therapy, and finding a hobby.

With all the deaths and tragedies in the world, grief seems to be a constant feeling right now. 

According to an article from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Adolescents may also experience grief in ways that are both similar to and different than children and adults. Adolescents may experience significant changes in their sleep patterns, isolate themselves more, frequently appear irritable or frustrated, withdraw from usual activities, or engage more frequently with technology.”

These behaviors have become increasingly common of late.

“During COVID-19 I’ve found it extremely difficult to keep my mental health on track,” said senior Ryan Connick. “It had been a very difficult struggle to find ways to keep myself busy and to keep both my body and my mind healthy on my own, but I found a way, and I learned that it is possible to improve your mental health simply by making small alterations to your lifestyle. It most certainly is difficult but not impossible.”

So many lives were lost this year, and the world is in the midst of a pandemic. It’s okay to take a break and just breathe. Despite what anyone says, there is ALWAYS time to focus on mental health.

In the Harvard Gazette article, Chan School Dean Michelle Williams said, “The past year has been terribly damaging to our collective mental health. There is no vaccine for mental illness.”

References:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/stress-coping/young-adults.html

Pandemic pushing people to the breaking point, say experts