When it comes to school, normally you have to get ready and make your way to class, leaving your house, your family and pets behind.
That is not normal for classes these days as we are learning online through Zoom and wearing masks and social distancing for some in-person classes. This adds anxiety for students about the future and possibly catching COVID-19 even with safety precautions in place.
“Mental health has definitely changed since COVID and lack of physical connection,” said Rose Park, a psychologist based in general psychology. Through this pandemic with social distancing, it is recommended that everyone stay at home.
Park said that the changes have been different for everyone. More panic, more anxiety, more depression are just some of the factors that lead to declining mental health. She explains people don’t have the access to usual coping strategies like seeing friends or leaving home.
Through this pandemic, people are exercising more, but they are also using unhealthy coping strategies like isolating, drinking, or using substances, spending more money and emotional eating. She said that some people feel that virtual aspects like Zoom are better than not having anything at all.
Park said, “Some students have found online learning difficult and challenging because it is hard to focus on. Some people have teachers/professors who are not well equipped to teach online, so things can become quite chaotic.”
Students are also having a hard time focusing and concentrating, especially since their motivation may have decreased. According to Park, some mental health issues have been steady since using online learning and technology.
Park said, “On the other hand, some students like online learning because it is at their fingertips, and being at home helps them feel less anxious. Some students are feeling more panicked and worried about the future.”
Jane Oliver, a counselor at Valley High School, had a different take. She believes distance learning that began in the spring has definitely had a negative impact on mental health.
Oliver said, “I think that this was a combination of distance learning itself, but also the fact that there was so much fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the shelter in place.” Many at her school felt that it was difficult because everyone thought it would be only for a few weeks, but the time away from school kept being extended.
For students, there was no consistent schedule for classes during the spring, and they felt disconnected from school and from others. Oliver hopes that the changes that were put into place for distance learning this fall will help improve the situation.
She noticed that students seem to feel more isolated now and miss seeing their classmates in person. Students prefer and miss in-person learning, Olver said.
Many students came to her and told her that they do not like online learning and really want to go back to the old times. Students miss seeing their friends and the community that is built within her school, she said.
Learning was especially difficult during the spring when distance learning was not consistent, and students were unsure of how to proceed. Meeting in a normal class schedule will help a little bit, according to Oliver. There is no replacement for face-to-face learning.
Students tell her that they have a rougher time doing all their work online. Not only that, but there are more financial and personal burdens on families that impact students’ mental health.
Oliver personally sees no improvement with mental health due to online learning in the fall. She only saw a negative impact.
DVC student Nancy Kim said that she misses going to class. She misses the social interaction with her classmates.
She also says she misses time to herself away from her husband and kids who are now at home working and learning. She longs for the way it was before in person because now there is more work to do.
Since the beginning of 2020, things have changed so much. In the future, those who weren’t alive during the pandemic will read in their textbooks about it or have assignments to interview an adult who was around during COVID-19.
With the rising levels of anxiety and depression affecting the mental health of students, Las Posita offers many resources to help. Students who need support can learn more about support services through the Student Health Center page on the Las Positas website.
Michelle Pacheco is a staff writer of The Express. Follow her @Miseon7Michelle .