Renee Hait

Within the past year and a half, our lives have changed drastically. Covid has taken a toll on everyone, and changed the way that we function in our day-to-day lives. For students, our growth has been put on hold, and we are being forced to find our way through a life which we have only just begun to live. Because of the pandemic, teachers, parents, and peers are beginning to prioritize mental health above everything else. Although this is important, especially in times like these, it makes me wonder why we haven’t always made the mental health of our students and our youth the high priority that we make it now?

As a student, Covid has had a big impact on my life, and my mental health. By keeping me and my peers indoors, it has prevented me from being socially active and making personal connections. It has made me more self-aware, and affected my ability to be sociable. I’ve found myself feeling something which I never have before: numb. Every day feels the same, almost as if I’m living someone else’s life, or really no life at all. Interviewing some of my fellow classmates at Frontier, I found that they seem to feel the same way. One student says, “Over the past year and a half, I’ve been unable to socialize, and it’s taken a toll on my mental health and my ability to participate in usual activities such as spending time with friends and playing sports.” Another student explains how, “Covid has affected me physically, preventing me from doing the things that I love, which overall affects my mental health in a negative way, an example being that I can no longer do sports due to the effect Covid has had on my lungs.” Although we all have different ways of coping and healing, I’m sure that most of us are sharing similar feelings. An article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research Publications describes a survey that was given to 195 students at a large university in the U.S. The results showed that of the 195 students in the study, 138 had gone through feelings of stress and anxiety due to the virus and the effect which it had on the community. These effects were said to include difficulty concentrating, less social interaction, and of course the never-ending worry of academic performance. Due to facts like these, we as a school community have begun to prioritize our mental health above all else. Learning about it during health class, have designated mental health breaks, etc.  Although this is extremely important and will allow us to grow and heal, it should have been prioritized long before March of 2020. From my personal experience, the importance of our mental health has never been held in such high regard as it is today. What people are failing to realize is that these same issues that people are developing now have been around long before the pandemic. You should not need an excuse like Covid to validate the significance of your mental health. Although it may be the root of some people’s problems, many cannot say the same. It’s sad to think that so many people have had their mental illnesses invalidated or ignored, just because they didn’t have a reason for their struggle. This is something that is not under our control and needs to be legitimized. By normalizing the importance of students’ mental health, we can improve the state of our community and allow our youth to better develop into society.