A New School Year, Mental Health, and COVID
For most adolescents and young adults, school has been well in session. Whether it’s a few weeks or over a month, you’re probably adjusting – or trying your best to – adjust to new schedules, assignments, expectations, and unfortunately, COVID protocols.
To say that schools and colleges haven’t been running the way they usually do for the past couple of years has been an understatement. There are constantly unknowns and changes to whether school should be in-person, virtual, or both, and what kind of mandates teachers and students should follow if they’re physically in school.
Between this uncertainty, the pandemic’s existing effects on mental health, and an already existing concern for the rise of mental illness symptoms in adolescents, adjusting to this school year is likely going to be difficult. Psychiatrists are expecting a rise in students seeking help (and the new school year pre-COVID was already the busiest time for child psychologists), and there are concerns about how adolescents are facing worsening social anxiety symptoms due to the majority of virtual schooling prior to this school year.
This is a lot to handle in an already stressful environment. No matter where you are in your schooling career, you’re probably facing some kind of stress and transitions. You might be in high school taking on the burden of busier classes while figuring out where you want to go to college, you may be in college working towards the career you want after graduating, or you may be a graduate student balancing both your intense workload and teaching other classes. The stress of a pandemic, wondering how you’re going to be learning, and whether you’ll be able to see your friends and peers in person don’t help, and can make existing anxiety symptoms worse.
This is all to say that the stress, anxieties, and fears about your future right now are okay. These times continue to not be normal, and if you feel like your work is suffering, do your best to take the steps you need to find the support that’s best for you. Most adolescents and young adults are struggling as a result of COVID, even in comparison to other demographics, so it’s also important to know that you are not alone. As you continue through the school year and whatever inevitable changes arise, do your best to take each week at a time.
How is your college or school currently running? Have you noticed how your peers are handling the changes? Have you talked to other classmates about how they’ve been feeling? How have you been transitioning into the new school year?