The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted the mental health of students across the country, from kindergarten through college. Since schools closed in March 2020, rates of anxiety, depression, and overall stress have skyrocketed among the younger generations. Remote learning has taken a tremendous toll upon students, especially those who find it hard to focus outside the classroom or who lack the support that they normally receive from teachers and staff members while at school.
Unfortunately, suicide rates, especially in younger individuals have been steadily increasing over the past year. A study conducted by the JED Foundation found that 63% of the surveyed college students have experienced worse mental health since the start of the pandemic. A large number of students are dealing with mental illness, but lack the coping skills and resources necessary to address it. Children might not even realize the significance behind what they are feeling, therefore, they will not receive the help that they need.
Additionally, students are learning much less than they would from a normal school setting. Online learning provides too much of the opportunity for students to not pay attention or to become distracted. There are no hand-on labs, physical education classes, or interactive group projects. Also, many students don’t have a way to get extra help if they are struggling with the course material. This leads to grades dropping, which in turn, is another factor that affects mental health.
Beside the increased learning that students get from in-person classes, school is a social experience. It is a time to make friends, participate in extracurriculars, and have fun exercising through P.E. and sports. Social interaction is extremely important in youth development and has drastic effects on all people because humans are a social species.
As some schools return to at least partially in-class sessions, it is becoming increasingly clear as to why students need to be in school. Leslie Fazio, a parent whose children returned to school last week, stated that there is a huge difference in her kids’ smiles. They are truly excited, happy, and “their eyes are shining when they get in the car” after she picks them up from a day of in-person school. The mental health of students is vastly important to consider, which is exactly why it is imperative that schools return to normal as soon as possible while still taking precautions to keep everyone healthy and safe.