Student’s mental health under the microscope during pandemic

As we have watched the entire world experience something that most of us have never seen in our lifetime, extreme and scary shifts have occurred that are taking us away from our daily lives. For many, the threat of COVID-19 was merely a joke or a distant threat that we had nothing to worry about. But, as state governments across America go on complete lockdown, and schools everywhere begin to close for several months or even for the rest of the school year, we are starting to realize exactly what this means for us. 

First, Judson ISD and several other districts in the area announced an extended spring break due to the coronavirus. However, there have been several extensions since then from both the state and federal governments and the prospect of going back to school at all is starting to seem very unlikely. 

“It was just an extended break at first. Who doesn’t like long breaks? But now, it’s been too long since I’ve seen anyone other than my family. I stay in my room all day and it drives me insane,” a Judson senior said. 

A lockdown to such proportions will, of course, affect everybody. However, the intensity at which it affects those with mental health conditions can be extremely high. For the average person, they may experience cabin fever or severe boredom from not being in school. But others, who struggle with anxiety and depression due to trauma, this quarantine causes more complex problems. 

“School, even though it could be stressful at times, gave me an outlet for my emotions. It’s easier to let things out of my head when someone specifically gives me a prompt on how to do that, like ‘sing this’ or ‘draw this.’ Mrs. Tiffany Cristo, my choir teacher, really helped to keep me encouraged every day,” a Judson sophomore said. “I’m struggling with being alone mostly. My loved ones and my creative outlets at school really helped to allow me to distance myself from those things I struggle with, and now that I don’t have those. I feel on my own sometimes with fending my struggles off.”

Many other students, who also struggle with anxiety, are experiencing similar problems while in quarantine.

“Quarantine has me feeling like I’m not in control anymore. Being in one place 24/7 for days upon end creates an environment where it’s easy for me to overthink and worry quite often,” a Judson junior said. “The main thing I struggle with is not having a set routine anymore. One of the ways I dealt with my anxiety was maintaining a schedule that would place less worry on my part and with that element missing I definitely struggled more than usual.”

For students like these, school provided built-in coping mechanisms into their day to day routine. However, for students such as another Judson senior, who deals with post-traumatic stress disorder, along with major anxiety and depression, school means so much more. 

“The role school played for me was definitely my safe haven. I became attached to school before my [CPS] removal and after. It felt like my safe space, a place I could go to and talk to my favorite teachers, some friends, and ease my mind with the band,” a Judson senior said. “[Quarantine] makes me feel as if I’m Rapunzel and I’m never going to get out. It takes me back to my life with my biological parents, never being allowed to go anywhere and being stuck in my room all day every day.”

Finding coping mechanisms outside of school activities, public spaces, and socialization can be extremely difficult, but it is possible. 

“One thing I’ve always known to make me feel better is working out. Although the gyms are closed, I’ve picked up long-distance running. As simple as it sounds, running has been so beneficial to my quarantine,” the Judson junior said. “Getting to go outside and just be in the open where I can release some steam and just without worry is amazing.”

Though this may be a troubling time, we are all living history together and we have to be there for each other. 

“Tragedy and loss either tear people apart or brings them together in love, and I hope it’s the latter for our school,” the Judson sophomore said. “Now that we’ve experienced life without each other and all the things we took for granted, I hope we see education and student life as a privilege from now on and not a burden.” 

The CDC has provided information on its website to help people with preexisting mental health conditions during this time. They recommend that anyone who has been receiving mental health treatment before the crisis still attempt to seek treatment through Tele-Health. 

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger,” according to the CDC.

They also recommend taking breaks from reading the latest news about the virus to help ease some of the anxiety that comes with it. Take time to do something for your body such as meditate, exercise, get plenty of sleep, stretch, and eat balanced meals. 

For those struggling, it’s important to know you are not alone and even more importantly, understand that this will pass. As a society, we have to take every precaution we can to keep ourselves and our community safe and healthy, but these precautions will not last forever and normal life will return. If you need to seek help, you can contact the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. For those who need it, you may also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

The district also has support services for those who wish to contact someone locally.


***Due to the sensitivity of the article and the situation concerning COVID-19, the names of those interviewed were not disclosed.*** If there are issues with this article, report it here.