Mental health must be an increased priority during the pandemic



Under the mask — Social distancing is a great way to conquer the COVID-19 virus, but takes a big hit on mental health. We must normalize talking about the mental health struggles that come with isolation.

Gabe Gantkin, Staff Writer

While many issues regarding the recent COVID-19 pandemic have been overstimulating the public’s attention, one problem that goes largely unnoticed is the quarantined student body’s declining mental health. Despite efforts to reaffirm school spirit, the truth is that without a way to socialize with peers and keep real interpersonal connections, many students’ mental health will continue to decline.

Throughout the pandemic, students worldwide have been ripped from their social lives and thrown into isolation. Many cannot keep in close contact with their peers due to online schooling or cohort separation. Randomly dividing the student body based on last name alone, while seemingly a practical solution to restrictions, has put some students in a bad situation. Many students are simply unlucky and have found themselves in the opposite cohort from their friends, causing greater feelings of disconnect from the rest of the world.

In the age of social media, you’d think keeping in touch would be easy, but you’d be wrong. Online communication is nowhere near equivalent to face-to-face communication. The sense of camaraderie and belonging that one feels with their friends is invaluable in developing social skills later in life, and in teaching valuable lessons they will remember for the rest of their lives.

Considering the current pandemic taking place and the stress that everyone has been feeling at home, we should be focusing on mental health now more than ever. Kids need more opportunities to connect with their peers, and Kahoots just aren’t going to cut it. According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, depression and anxiety rates among teens will continue to rise without the ability to socialize with their peers and a routine schedule. Schools nationwide need to offer continuous support, and students need to reach out to counselors and teachers. Countless studies have proven that positive mental health leads to increased academic performance, and ignorance of this will only continue to worsen the problem.

The pandemic has created stress for most. The impacts of continued social isolation among our generation may be permanent, causing a disconnect between one another at a time when we need to be united together.