Student’s Mental Health in Quarantine
The twists and turns on student's psyche whilst distance learning.
November 5, 2020
The announcement that the 2020/2021 school year would be taught solely through Zoom brought twists and turns for students and their mental health. Many students relaxed at the prospect of casually learning in the comfort of their own homes, but distance learning also brings a daunting new storm of complications on student’s mental health.
The days before Covid are a distant memory now. It seems like an eternity since students and teachers could talk to each other in person and have heartfelt conversations. Times have changed drastically.
Wellness counselor at San Dimas High School, Diana Zuniga explains how she identifies students in need of help. “Students are referred by teachers, counselors, or parents that see behaviors or emotions that are creating a dysfunction for students.”
But how do teachers identify melancholy behavior when most students have their cameras off? The empty silence of a strikingly anti-social Zoom meeting is the most likely environment featured in classes this year. Days of teasing, talking out of turn, and bad behavior are in the past for now.
Zoom and distance learning creates an isolated and impersonal experience. “I collaborate with staff and teachers to help them identify students in need since I am not on campus and students can’t seek me out,” explains Wellness therapist, Zuniga. “I have less students showing up for help since they can’t just walk into my office like they did last year.”
The isolation of quarantine puts a humongous strain on relationships. Sitting behind a screen, unable to talk to peers who most likely are represented by a black screen, is a disheartening image. Unfortunately, it’s a realistic picture of what distance learning and quarantine is like. “I have been getting increasingly lonely as quarantine progresses,” admits a SDHS freshman. “I found out that most of my friends don’t really talk to me and some of them are kinda toxic or fake.”
But the icy seclusion of Zoom isn’t the only new and frustrating addition to this school year. With instruction entirely online, San Dimas High School has implemented the learning platform Canvas into the curricular. Students and teachers alike have found this new way of education quite challenging.
“I used to be an A and B person. But now, I’m an A, B, C, D and F person!” exclaims another struggling freshman. “I can’t sit in front of a screen and learn like that!” She feels learning at school is easier because it’s free of distractions. Plus, she’s been doing it all her life.
Another reason she’s drowning in stress is because of the “messy” way some teachers organize assignments in Canvas. “I do what’s on the ‘to do’ list but their list is always messy and I can never find the assignments that they assign because there are so many buttons and links!”
However, even with all these terrible symptoms of quarantine, there are still some positive sides to learning during the disastrous pandemic. Zuniga confirms that, “Bullying and negative peer relationships can also develop into low self-esteem and depression.” The same flustered freshmen that are having trouble with academics also see the beneficial effects of remote learning through coronavirus. “It made my appearance better because before there would always be people at school that would make fun of what I’m wearing.”
The other interviewed freshman who was having trouble with friends also is relieved by some helpful results of learning with zoom. “I don’t really like talking in front of large groups of people, and I’ve had it hard when working in groups because I get paired with the people who don’t care about their grades.” Zoom has eliminated those issues for her.
In conclusion, there are pros and cons to distance learning. The academic stress and isolation is an unfortunate effect of quarantine. But learning at home abolishes bullying and other social annoyances from peers. “Students are struggling with anxiety about the unknown, feeling out of control and fearful of the future,” says Wellness Director, Diana Zuniga. Focusing on the bigger picture, we can be certain that we will survive this; humanity will make it through Covid-19 with hope and courage. After all, there can’t be a rainbow without a little rain.