COVID-19 Affects Teen Mental Health

Aaron Ichel and Annalee Gorman

With the country on lockdown, people across the world are experiencing changes in their mental health, including students. Two students in the Natomas School District on Apr. 7 took their own lives. With growing anxiety over the COVID-19 quarantine, health officials have expressed concern over the students’ mental health. 

In March, the WellSpace Sacramento office answered 4,713 suicide calls, an increase from 3,375 calls last February. About ten percent of those calls mentioned COVID-19 as a stressor.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, fear and anxiety about COVID-19 may cause increased stress for individuals. Without sports, school, or social events, more students are feeling lost and disconnected from the outside world.

“It’s hard not being able to see friends,” said senior Samantha Klein. “Even FaceTiming with someone feels different and it makes me feel so different from everyone.”

Some students feel that they have lost their independence from not being able to obtain their driver’s license or are becoming seemingly impatient from the long quarantine.

“I was looking forward to getting my license,” said sophomore Owen Burns. “It’s a big part of highschool and now I have to wait before I go anywhere.”

Without an end in sight, positivity seems hard to upkeep. Juniors struggle with new college application guidelines and seniors prepare to stay home for the fall.

“It’s hard to know what to expect during college expectations,” said junior Max Kitay. “No one really knows what’s going on yet.”

With students sleeping in more and struggling to stay active parents worry about their child’s emotional development.

“It’s hard to stay motivated and active without school or seeing your friends,” said senior Miri Leaderman.

Teens find themselves spending even more time on social media platforms now to communicate with their friends. However, this increased social media use might be having a negative effect on teens’ mental health.

“Being able to connect with your friends through social media is comforting in a way, said junior Nate Gauthier. “But I think that the more we connect with all of our friends through these sites, the more distant we feel because we can see firsthand how the quarantine has isolated each and every one of us.” 

With seniors ending the year without closure, staff members and parents at Rio have tried to raise spirits at the school in the midst of the quarantine. In order to recognize the seniors, the PTSA organized signs celebrating each senior to be placed in front of their homes.

“When we learned that Punch Bowl Social had to cancel Rio’s graduation night event, we decided to do something special for the seniors,” said PTSA member Tina Harris. 

Although the signs helped commemorate the class of 2020, both parents and staff want to increase morale and give seniors the send-off they hoped for.

“We are hopeful at some point in the near future to organize an event to celebrate and honor the Rio Class of 2020,” said Harris.