by Cheveyo Baker
As we all know, school can be an extremely stressful process in a regular school year, but this year is far from normal. With many current events such as the 2020 presidential election, along with the spreading of COVID-19, and a new system of learning and teaching, both students and staff can be seen struggling with their mental health.
Jaze Baker, a Hamden High junior student, says “The most difficult thing about being in school now is the lack of motivation. While in zoom I have the tendency to not stay focused and become bored with whatever is going on in the zoom.” Clearly shown by much of the student body, trying to stay on track with stress from multiple classes a day along with being in environments where you are not typically required to do so much work, causes for a lack of motivation and focus. He goes on to say “I think the school could have eased up on the workload for a lot of students in the beginning of the year because some students got all that work and it stressed them out so much that they couldn’t keep up and gave up on work entirely.” He then speaks about the lack of communication between students, teachers, and guidance counselors and how as a junior he feels unprepared and uneasy going into his senior year. This concern has been expressed by many high school students, as according to an article written by Anya Kamenetz on NPR “41% of teenagers overall, including 47% of public school students, say they haven’t attended a single online or virtual class”. This being a report from early within the lockdown, the number of students who may not be attending online school now could be drastically worse as many have lost the motivation after seeing a negative decline in their grades. On a brighter note, we can say this has brought students to work together and help each other out, Baker even goes so far as to give advice to other students saying “Try and find some motivation for yourself and set a time out of your day to just get whatever work you need to get done and do it. It’s definitely hard being able to balance school work with your personal life but being able to do so makes this time a little bit easier especially if you can take time to work on a new hobby or skill”.
While the impact on students during this time is clearly a topic that is often discussed and trying to be mended by our current governmental system, we often forget to acknowledge that teachers are just as human as we are. While there is a clear distinction between teachers/staff and students, the teachers and staff are going through an entirely different yet similar struggle as us. They are having to adjust to new teaching styles and as many staff members have families and personal lives, they have to juggle both taking care of their home life as well as trying to teach to students at school. Ms. Danielle Gentile, one of the Health teachers at Hamden High says “The pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the mental health of both students and teachers in the past year, and will continue to do so as we adjust to our new structure of learning. In less than a year, students were expected to adjust to distance learning protocols, 6+ hours of screen time (when only one year prior, we had vehemently discouraged it)”. She speaks about the drastic change from being in person and learning face to face most times not directly staring into screens, to students switching to being in front of screens for hours on end, everyday of the week which is something we’re not used to. Gentile then goes on to say “ This change has shuttered the American education system and has severed students from their once normal lives, resulting in increased rates of depression and anxiety for students of all ages”. Being a generation that has increasingly high mental health rates, this pandemic has been something that has caused many of us to be put in spots that as teenagers, and really as humans, we should never have to experience. She also speaks in her statement about how teachers have had to become aware of signs of depression and suicidal ideologies, and in an article written by William Van for the Washington Post, he says “Since the coronavirus arrived, depression and anxiety in America have become rampant. Federal surveys show that 40 percent of Americans are now grappling with at least one mental health or drug-related problem. But young adults have been hit harder than any other age group, with 75 percent struggling”. This is something that no one should have to go through, especially at such a young age as many students are during this time.
To say our fight against mental health, covid, and injustice in today’s society is far from over would be an understatement. We have a long way to go before we can get back to a semi-normal society and even then, what we call normal will be far from what we previously described. With this being said, there is still hope for everyone out there, not just students and staff but for society as a whole. In a time of unjust and unpredictable actions by others, there are also the times that we work with each other and come together as people to fight for what’s right and to work towards making sure that we are all okay. At the bottom of this article, along with reference points for where the information was sourced from, there will also be information for staff at Hamden High and other resources that can help if you feel like you may need it. The only thing we can truly do right now is stay hopeful, stay true to ourselves, and ultimately realize that we will get through this, not by ourselves, but collectively as a society.
SBHC(School Based Health Center)
Hours: 7:00 AM – 3:30 PM
203-248-2953 (fax) https://www.hamden.org/hhs/parents/student-health-services/school-based-health-services
Sucide Prevention Lifeline
LGBTQ+ Hotline (The Trevor Project)
Domestic Violence Hotline