Updated: Nov 2, 2020
In the new times of learning and teaching at Winnacunnet, students could be finding themselves drowning in work as COVID-19 progresses to change everything. Winnacunnet’s social worker, Talley Westerberg, knows being mentally healthy is the most important, especially when you feel isolated from friends and teachers, and the normal ways of learning.
“During this time, being mindful of mental health is just as imperative as being mindful of physical health,” Westerberg said. “Much like wearing masks and staying six feet apart help us to keep our bodies healthy during this time, students need to maintain daily practices that support their mental health such as getting enough sleep, drinking water, monitoring media consumption, and getting regular physical exercise, especially in these gorgeous fall days we have had the past few weeks.”
Lots of students have been struggling with mental health during the times of COVID, “Mental health problems can affect a student's energy level, concentration, dependability, mental ability, and optimism,” the Suicide Prevention Resource Center states on their website, “These issues can also have long-term consequences for students, affecting their future employment, earning potential, and overall health.” Mental health can affect the overall performance of students greatly. One study found that five percent of students do not finish their education due to psychiatric disorders, and an estimated that 4.29 million people would have graduated from college had they not been experiencing such disorders.
The Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization based on addressing nationwide health policies, ran a mid-July poll, and found that “(If schools do not reopen,) 67 percent of parents with children ages 5-17 are worried their children will fall behind socially and emotionally.”
On the other hand, Westerberg said there were some positives to the quarantine. “(However,) for some adolescents, the pandemic has offered a reprieve from the myriad of stresses they were experiencing prior to COVID. We know that some students have thrived during online learning.” Westerberg said.
“Some students with anxiety have seen a lessening of their symptoms because they aren't facing the things that make them anxious as frequently. Additional time at home has provided opportunities for students to pursue new interests and explore new outlets of creativity.”
“It is OK to not be OK right now. Teachers, counselors, social workers, coaches, and others have already begun to hear the stories of the traumatic things our students have faced since schools closed in March. Though this is the first time we have experienced something like this on a global scale in this generation, what I know about teenagers is that they are tremendously resilient! Healing comes through connected, safe, and supportive relationships that help us to cope in extraordinarily difficult circumstances. I would encourage any student that is struggling to reach out to a trusted adult in our Winnacunnet community for support.” Westerberg said.