Behind the screen: students left reeling from virtual year

Hana Elster

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Photo by Hana Elster

Senior Caroline Dooren stresses over coming back to in person classes her last year of high school. She is studying for an economics test that she has been working really hard to receive an A.

As a new reality of mental health issues surface, students have become more aware of emotions around them. The transition from virtual school to in-person classes has generated feelings of anxiety for students that have been difficult to overcome.

The pressure to fit into high school is hard, and students saw the reality of it during virtual learning. Now, walking into school is hard for students after being able to hide behind a screen for so long.

“Being on Zoom made me feel really isolated and alone, which made me anxious and deteriorated my mental health,” sophomore Sara Elster said.

Social anxiety wasn’t the only thing that impacted students. Depression and sudden mood changes closely followed behind this newfound anxiety. The anxiety and stress of going between virtual and in-person school really left some students feeling alone.

“I basically lost the only friends I had, isolated myself from everyone and by the time I went to school in person, I felt like a complete stranger,” Elster said.

Before the pandemic, students actively interacted with each other in class and were able to make friends easily. However, the isolation has affected students internally, damaging their ability to make friends and socialize.

“I don’t feel as though Covid has had any extreme effects on my mental health. That being said, I do think that it has impacted my life from a social standpoint. I believe that due to isolation and post isolation, I have experienced social anxiety significantly more than pre-covid,” senior Sam Ruder said.

Not only did virtual school take a toll on students’ mental health, but it also incentivized students to not complete their work. Students slacked off because they didn’t know what to expect in the future and did not want to do their work since they were so tired.

“It was hard for students to focus while taking classes at home… it really showed how Covid took a heavy toll on many students,” English teacher Melanie MacFadden said.

Mental health is something that impacts teenagers every day. Some students have more struggles than others when it comes to mental health, but to some it now it seems as though students have been able to uplift each other.

“Everybody has certain levels of anxiety and more people are much more aware than previous years. We are finally voicing how we feel,” MacFadden said.

While overcoming mental health issues are still very difficult, the shift to breaking the stigmas surrounding it in today’s world may put people at ease when working toward a solution.