COVID-19 impacted teenagers’ mental health with many struggling to cope during quarantine, the run up to school and adjusting to school. Whilst teenagers are better at using and communicating with their friends on social media apps the lack of physical contact with friends in social settings deepened the feelings of isolation.
As parents, carers and students grappled with the new way of learning for some it proved difficult. Frustration was felt on many fronts, some teens found the new way of working and the workload overwhelming especially as GCSE exams loomed. I spoke to a current year 11 pupil Amber, ‘I found the stress of working towards my GCSE’s which I will be taking next summer extremely stressful. It was made more difficult by not having enough face to face time with my tutors.’ When asked whether this pupil felt sufficiently supported by her school she replied, ‘no, the support wasn’t there and as a result I felt lost attempting to teach myself effectively.’
Another student I spoke to told me he found online learning easier but he missed socialising with his peers in and out of school. This year 10 student found returning to the school setting difficult, as he struggled with the transition from online learning in a relaxed home setting to going back to the formal school setting, with added rigorous hygiene routines in place. Although he was back at school and reunited with his friends it wasn’t the same as it once was, with social distancing and having to wear face masks he felt more stressed trying to adhere to the safety policies in place.
While I also found online learning easier my mental health was affected greatly, with elderly family members contracting the virus I felt extremely worried about them. As numbers rise again and we find our towns and cities having to adhere to stricter measures I find myself increasingly anxious of what lies ahead in terms of my education, feelings of isolation and my mental health. I know many others like me feel the same, in that I am not alone. Going forward I hope schools will be able to support online learning better as well as