Effects of Virtual Learning on Mental Health

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The American Psychological Association provides different ways to maintain a positive and healthy mindset during social distancing.

The COVID-19 outbreak has resulted in a worldwide halt of normalcy. People are confined to their homes, only allowed to leave to shop for essentials. Some states are requiring people to wear face coverings at all times when outside of their homes. According to The Lancet, a weekly medical journal, 90% of students are now learning online, with some states requiring students’ work still be graded, and others stating that the schoolwork is optional.  In such an unprecedented moment in the history of education, the question of how teenagers and their mental health are being affected arises.

The spring season brings forth a lot of worries for teens in high school. From prom plans, graduation, and sports seasons, schools nationwide have had to significantly adjust all of these events due to the ensuing pandemic. This lacrosse season was the first for junior Idris Yahaya. “Even though I understand why spring sports were cancelled,” he says,  “it still hurts knowing I won’t get to play with my senior teammates.”

Aside from sports, important academic tests such as the ACT, SAT and AP exams have also undergone massive changes. “It’s concerning because I don’t feel very prepared for my AP tests. Distance learning makes the actual learning difficult,” says Wilde Lake junior Ekim Davis, a student preparing for these exams. For students in the junior class, there are concerns about information regarding college applications that they would have received from their guidance counselors this spring semester. Junior Brian Ihe-Jurobi explains his worries as an incoming senior applying to colleges in the coming fall. “My main concern is the availability of scholarships. The competition is already very high, and an increased amount of students will be looking to apply, especially during these times.”

With the introduction of virtual distance learning, many students feel that it has taken an overwhelming toll on their mental health. Junior Vaniya Khan feels the weight of not being able to be around people she was used to seeing everyday. “Seeing my friends at school would make my day. It sucks because calling or texting them isn’t quite the same,” she says.

However, some students feel quite the opposite, that the time away from school hasn’t harmed their mental health whatsoever. Junior Jet Stevenson explains that the free time is, in fact, beneficial. She says, “The idle time is good for my mental health because I’m able to do more activities and projects on my own that I wouldn’t otherwise have time for.”

While some may be finding distractions easily, those suffering from mental health issues are struggling with being constantly confined. According to research done by The Lancet, a news source regarding child and adolescent health, approximately 83% of young people suffering from mental health issues have felt their conditions worsen since the shutdown. Additional reasons for the decline in mental health include cancelled therapy sessions and college students worried about the job market they are to soon enter.

With constant changes during this pandemic, it is increasingly difficult for people to focus on their responsibilities and families. While so much is uncertain, Vaniya Khan is certain of one thing. “Everyone has different circumstances, but it’s important to remember we are all feeling the effects of social distancing together,” she says. “It’s hard, but we should make the best of what we are grateful for.”