The impact on students’ mental health during online schooling and recommendations to stay afloat.
BY SOPHIA HUDSON, ‘22.
Since the beginning of March, students all across the country have been partaking in full or
part time digital learning in an effort to decrease the spread of COVID-19. Many school districts, including Upper Arlington, started completely online while still trying to maintain the quality of education. This decision was not made lightly by UA Schools Superintendent Paul Imhoff, as disagreeing opinions from all sides still run wild. Some have praised this new style of learning, arguing that the self-paced and judgement-free environment has improved comprehension and helped students truly focus on school work. Others emphasize the disadvantages of at-home learning, such as isolation and the effects it can have on a person’s overall health while students are still outside of the building two to three days a week for the hybrid model.
The National Alliance of Mental Illness recently reported that Americans are increasingly becoming more aware of mental illness issues and that over 90% of adults view mental disorders as something that shouldn’t be shameful. These results are encouraging, as the overall stigma around mental illness has continued to decrease. In a society that emphasizes the importance of mental health more than ever before, quarantining has become a concern for the well-being of students, regardless of age, gender or social status, as some studies have shown that isolation can lead to negative changes in a person’s mental well-being.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 76% of students have reported a negative impact to their overall mental health due to the pandemic. Feelings of anxiety, depression and stress are not uncommon as our country dives head first into these
unprecedented times. Junior Anna Schweisthal says that the distance from friends and normal school scheduling has been the hardest part for her. “I think that just because things are so crazy right now, plus not being able to see my friends or anyone that I would normally see on a daily basis, it’s really taken a toll on my mind. I’ve been really stressed out these last few months,”she said.
Isolation caused by a lack of face-to-face connection is just one of several downfalls of digital learning in terms of the mental well-being of students. Another concern with digital learning is the dramatic increase in necessary screen use, which has sparked concerns about long-term eye damage and can also be detrimental to a person’s mental health. Students may experience fatigue, headaches, as well as new or increased social anxiety in normal settings along with it becoming more difficult for students to manage time and stay motivated. The concern seems to only be growing as UA schools began the hybrid learning model and students are struggling to develop a routine but also have more free time, asking the question whether or not this will have a net negative or positive impact on students.
Some resources such as stress relief Zooms have been made available by counselors along with some art therapy sessions posted on Canvas, but without any conclusive data from Upper Arlington about student well-being, it is difficult to say whether these resources are of help.
In the meantime the CDC recommends that students find a coping mechanism in order to deal with pandemic-induced stress.
These managing skills include: Sticking to a routine: Following a similar schedule each day and waking up and going to bed at a reasonable time can be factors in creating a positive and productive work environment.
Engaging in some type of physical activity: Exercising can relieve stress and boost one’s mood. Whether it be an intense home workout or a simple family walk around the neighborhood, exercise is a great activity for both physical health and mental health.
Connecting: It can be easy to feel alone during this time, so it’s important to
reach out to loved ones. A text, phone call, or even a socially distanced get together can be beneficial.
Knowing when to get help: During these uncertain times, experiences may vary from person to person. If someone is struggling, do not hesitate to reach out for help. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is