COVID-19 changes the impact of school life on mental health
Perrysburg High School students started four-day in-person learning before spring break and the return was stressful for some.
Although not everyone experiences the same amounts of stress and mental health issues, the pandemic is negatively impacting students.
In a Board of Education meeting, on Feb. 16, a decision was made to change the schedules in Perrysburg. The plan alters the hybrid schedule and has students at PHS attend school four days a week on March 16.
“I think there is going to be some initial anxiety associated with that, that are related to COVID,” Guidance Counselor Nicole Bihn said of the decision. She added, “But on the other side of that things are starting to really open up and one of the best stress-busters is being able to relate and be with other people.”
Bihn mentioned that there are other factors which also have a part in students’ stress like economic difficulties.
“We have families who have experienced a lot of loss this year. They may have had family members or friends who have died of COVID,” Bihn said.
Bihn said that, although GPAs have not decreased dramatically, counselors are seeing more students in need of interventions like Monday school.
Tara Stadler is a freshman at PHS who has learning in-person since the beginning of the school year. She said, “School last year was less stressful and even fun sometimes but now every assignment makes me incredibly stressed, even if it’s just science homework.”
Stadler said, her academic performance hasn’t been negatively affected, but that, “it definitely has for a lot of my friends.”
Stadler said that school has, “Become a lot more invasive in my life. I feel like I have less personal time to do what I want and having to do school in my room brings the anxiety from school into what should be my safe place.”
Bihn said that, “The incidents of students experiencing depression and anxiety has gone up. I don’t know that it’s been brand new- I think that it’s made underlying conditions dramatically worse.”
“I think you’re always going to have students who take things and stride- that experience lower stress levels whether that’s due to their environment or their general mental health,” Bihn said. “But to say that, here we are in a pandemic and say that it’s not effecting everyone. I don’t think you can say that. I think everyone’s been effected somehow, some way.”
Bihn urges students who feel overwhelmed with stress to “Please reach out to trusted adults – counselors, teachers. But don’t stay silent. And if there isn’t anyone available, I would recommend that if a student is feeling like they’re going to hurt themselves, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.”
She added that, “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.”
“The Perrysburg High School Counseling Department is here and ready and available to provide support.” Bihn said.
(Students in need of support can find counselors’ contact information on the Counseling Dept page on the Perrysburg Schools website.)
“The isolation has caused problems for many people, and I think by being around friends, being able to spend time with them more in classes and interact with more humans, eventually we’re going to see that anxiety decrease,” Bihn says.
Students in Perrysburg are experiencing new increased stress and poor mental health. The cause? COVID-19.