Mental Health vs. COVID-19

Since March 2020, the month when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the entire United States into lockdown, many feared that they would not exit this time unscathed. People nationwide took precautionary measures to protect themselves and their families. This primarily included staying at home and away from all outsiders, even including extended family and close friends.

These measures did protect an enormous amount of individuals from contracting the virus, but it would be false to use this as a justification to declare them as unscathed. According to a CDC study, 8.1% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety disorder, and 6.5% reported symptoms of depressive disorder during the second quarter of 2019. In a second study conducted in June 2020, however, 25.5% of adults reported anxiety disorder symptoms, and 24.3% reported symptoms of depressive disorder.

These statistics’ significance was only made more transparent, with one in ten adults citing the lockdown as reason for a major increase in substance use. There was an even more concerning rise in suicide ideation among those surveyed; This severe consideration of suicide increased from 4.3% in 2018 to 10.7%.

There is a clear indication of COVID-19 serving as causation for these numbers, as suspected by the CDC. It is the most likely justification for the severe changes in numbers from years prior.

But, these statistics leave out a large portion of the population: Children and teenagers at who Masuk High School have once again been removed from school and placed into isolated remote learning.

“Routines, social interactions, and friendships are among the most important factors responsible for children’s normal psychological development. Being quarantined or isolated often breaks their usual routines and can make an already challenging situation far more difficult for all children and adolescents,” said the National Center for Biotechnology Information.

There is no question that since the transition to fully remote learning in Monroe, routines have been completely altered, social interaction has decreased, and friendships have been made more challenging to maintain. Though Masuk students specifically are no longer children, teenage brains are still developing. They are included in those hurt by these adverse effects of social isolation.

“Our first quarantine in March definitely did a number on my mental health; I even had to start seeing a therapist. My depression has improved since then, but I still don’t think I’m back to where I was before the pandemic,” said a student who asked to remain anonymous.

A study conducted by the University of Oregon proves that Masuk students are not alone in feeling this way.  Starting on April 6, a large sample of parents were sent a weekly questionnaire that asked about their children’s mental well-being. Just at week 12, 41% of parents responded that their children had been feeling more anxious. Even more concerning is that the percentage of kids acting noticeably more defiant toward their parents never dropped below 70% throughout the study. 

A rapid systematic review done by the University of Bath in England further confirms these adverse effects of social isolation, specifically on the younger generation. 

“Children and adolescents are probably more likely to experience high rates of depression and most likely anxiety during and after enforced isolation ends. This may increase as forced isolation continues,” stated the review’s conclusion. Social isolation has affected adolescents in Masuk High School, the United States, and throughout the world. As of now, everyone can only hope that a return to normalcy comes about soon, and with it, the return of mental well-being.

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