• avdewolfe

Mental Health + Online School

Updated: May 3

Image from: https://www.michigandaily.com/section/campus-life/students-discuss-how-mental-health-has-been-impacted-online-schooling

Regardless of your situation, I think everyone can agree that this school year hasn’t been the easiest. With so much going on in the world, with the pandemic, Black Lives Matter Movement, the presidential election, and more, it’s safe to say that it’s been a crazy year. Online school has been a major problem for many students across the globe. We were all used to seeing our friends in person, getting ready in the morning, and doing classwork in the classroom. Suddenly, all of that changed and we had to get used to online school. Later, we then had to transition to hybrid options and eventually get used to going back in-person full time. Whatever your school is doing currently, it’s important to note that these changes can affect our mental health in a variety of ways.

As teens, a major part of our life is our social connections. Not being able to see classmates and friends in person can play a huge factor in increasing anxiety and depression levels. This can be especially harder for teens who are attending a different school this year or transitioning to high school. I know several friends who have moved across the country, and I am transitioning to private school. All of these changes have been hard for us. Besides, many students have reported significantly higher stress levels regarding the academic workload they are receiving. Lacking the motivation to do work and attention span in class while working from home is something that all students have had to grapple with.

During all this chaos, we sometimes abandon our mental health. We can find ourselves constantly worrying, feeling down, and overall not feeling the best version of ourselves. It is important to notice when we are struggling, and find ways to deal with our feelings in healthy ways. Here are some ways to focus on your mental health and practice self-care during these difficult times:

  1. Practice mindfulness. This can mean downloading an app- some good ones are Calm, Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, or my personal favorite, Oak. Doing a simple breathing exercise when you start to feel anxious or doing a quick meditation in the morning can make a huge impact on how you feel the rest of the day. If you’re up for the commitment, some apps currently have discounted subscriptions and free options to help provide support during this pandemic.

  2. Ask for help. If you are struggling with a subject, don’t wait until you have a test to get help. Email your teacher and ask to set up a meeting to review the content. It will be worth it- and will save a lot of unnecessary stress. Teachers understand that this year has been hard, and more likely than not will be happy to help.

  3. Spend time with pets/family. We are lucky to still be able to be around our family, and anyone else living in our household. If you’re feeling down, go watch tv with your parents or bake something with your siblings. It may not feel the same as hanging out with friends, but social connection is important to prevent isolation.

  4. Find a new hobby/ join something. If you find you have a lot of free time, consider trying something new or joining an organization. I tried a Skillshare class on watercolor painting, and although I’m not the most artistic, it was super fun. Consider joining an organization, like this one, TeensForAll. Not only will you be connecting with other teens, but you will also be building several skills and helping to make a difference.

  5. Acknowledge that this is hard. No matter how many productivity videos you watch on Youtube, or how many inspiration boards you create, there are still going to be moments where you feel like crap. And that’s okay. You are having a perfectly normal reaction to a perfectly abnormal situation. Take time to just binge-watch Netflix or take a nap, because you deserve the break.

If you are having severe emotions like suicidal or self-harm thoughts, get help immediately. Tell a parent, teacher, or any other trusted adult for support. Hotlines: National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), National Hotline for Suicide Prevention: 800-273-8255

Ava DeWolfe, TeensForHope Writer

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