COVID-19’s Negative Effect on Mental Health

For+many+students%2C+these+challenging+times+are+bringing+feelings+of+stress+and++sadness+or+increased+anxiety+and+depression.+However%2C+there+are+many+ways+to+help+manage+these+difficult+feelings+through+self-care.

Eva Smedeby

For many students, these challenging times are bringing feelings of stress and sadness or increased anxiety and depression. However, there are many ways to help manage these difficult feelings through self-care.

Isabella Mahar, Feature Editor

These times of uncertainty create an increase in mental health issues for many people. Whether through temporary feelings of stress or sadness, or a spike in someone’s pre-existing anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses, the recent spread of COVID-19 is causing people to feel more mentally unwell than normal. 

As things intensify, it can create feelings of stress – whether because of worry about COVID-19 itself, tough economic circumstances created by it, or the lack of knowledge surrounding what’s going on with schools. 

Another feeling that is common is sadness because for many people it’s hard not having a set schedule creating structure in their lives or anything to do because of self-quarantine. In addition, with not going to school or work, it can be difficult to not see friends every day and not getting to talk to them as much. 

“The hardest part for me was keeping the same pace as before, because everything that kept the rhythm in my life has been interrupted. With the pause on the normaI routine that I followed every day, I often felt like I needed to do something even when there was nothing else I could do,” said junior Jieun Choi. 

“It has been really hard because I am a social person that loves being around people, especially my friends, and when I can’t do the one thing I love most, it makes me feel very isolated and trapped on the inside,” said sophomore Elizabeth Smerker.

For me having my social life restricted was really hard. I realized that my friends play a huge role in my mental health–without the people I feel most comfortable talking to(other than family). I’ve sometimes felt detached because of this,”

— Jieun Choi

While for a lot of people, these feelings will hopefully decrease as the situation calms in the coming months, they are certainly not something to ignore just because they may be temporary. Through self-care, keeping a schedule, and talking to friends, feelings of stress or sadness can be reduced. They may not completely disappear, as these are unprecedented times, but these actions of self care and creating a routine can still help manage the feelings and make the uncertainty more bearable. 

“It has been hard because for me, and I believe for many other students, we have been in a constant habit of learning in a physical classroom, interacting with peers and teachers— but then all of a sudden everything changed. The blunt and abrupt change and isolation is what makes it hard,” said junior Shaili Patel. 

For many people who already have pre-existing conditions such as an anxiety disorder or depression, the current situation can only amplify these. 

For people with anxiety, the lack of knowledge surrounding everything about how the world is affected can make their anxiety worse. When everything seems as if it’s turned upside down, this creates the feeling of no control that makes those who are already anxious, even more so. 

To be more specific, those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, can be disproportionately affected by the situation at hand. While not all people with OCD suffer from it being centered around germs and cleaning, it is one of the more common forms. 

So when there is a pandemic at hand, those who have OCD may feel largely compelled to try and protect themselves extremely, such as through obsessive hand washing that is medically unnecessary. While keeping clean is very important in the prevention of COVID-19, those with OCD might go even farther than what is necessary and these thoughts can control a person. 

[The situation] has definitely put a strain on [my mental health] just because in my mind it feels as if the world is being shut down and because of all of this it’s kind of hard to wake up in the morning and feel motivated to do anything,”

— Elizabeth Smerker

As for those with depression, some of the symptoms are anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness. Depression can make those affected with it not want to do anything because it feels as if there is no point. However, having a daily schedule and having to go to school and do things can help some people with their depression. When all of this is suddenly taken away, it makes the feeling of not wanting to do anything because it feels like there is no point stronger because it’s not required anymore. 

“[The situation] has definitely put a strain on [my mental health] just because in my mind it feels as if the world is being shut down and because of all of this it’s kind of hard to wake up in the morning and feel motivated to do anything,” said Smerker.

“For me having my social life restricted was really hard. I realized that my friends play a huge role in my mental health–without the people I feel most comfortable talking to(other than family). I’ve sometimes felt detached because of this,” said Choi. 

One of the most important things you can do for your mental health is practice self-care, as mentioned above. This can take place in many forms whether it be through meditation, talking to a friend (over the phone of course) or doing a hobby. While these actions may seem simple, they can help one’s mental health in extraordinary ways as they can help to distract and calm. The best part is these are all things that can be done in the safety of your own home, so that way you can still partake in social distancing and help flatten the curve. 

If you do need to talk to someone urgently, then some places to reach out are: the National Alliance on Mental Health (currently for crisis situations only their text line is open), the Trevor Project (for LGBTQ+ individuals), Say Something along with many others. In addition, the school counselors are available for virtual therapy, and have resources for students provided through Google Classroom. 

Even if you are feeling mentally well, it is still very important to extend compassion towards everyone because you may not know who isn’t doing well during this time.