How Mental Health Has Been Affected by Quarantine

Mera Seifu, Staff Writer

It’s been 282 days since the first confirmed case in the US, 235 days since the first confirmed case in Virginia and 229 days since school officially closed. A lot has happened since then. Since the pandemic hit, everyone has been forced to stay inside and practice social distancing. Students can’t go out to eat, hang out with friends or go to school like before. With such limitations, life as it had once been has drastically changed.

Recently, Woodson students have expressed concern about their mental health. “I feel like there’s less people to talk to and your emotions could easily bottle up,” said Meklit Hailemariam, a sophomore. Although social distancing has helped reduce the spread of COVID, it’s also resulted in social isolation for students. 

“Not being able to do extracurricular activities or hang out with friends I think has been really hard on a lot of people,” said junior Jada Bromberg, a mental health advocate and president of Woodson Minds Matter. “That is one of the biggest things that brings people joy in their life, so not having that has really affected people because they feel isolated and alone.” 

Along with homework assignments, clubs, and other extracurricular activities, this pandemic has added another overwhelming burden for students. Keeping a healthy mindset is important during these times.

School psychologist Ms. Risha Lamba said “examples of concerning behavior include: social isolation or withdrawal, feelings of hopelessness, increased anxiety and/or depression, changes in sleep and/or eating patterns, and increase of risky behavior.” 

According to Ms. Lamba, establishing a daily routine, maintaining social connections, having healthy eating habits and taking breaks from the screen are all great ways to help maintain good mental health. 

Cartoon by Cavalcade Staff

As the circumstances continue to evolve, students are learning to better adapt to the situation and have come up with several coping strategies. “Pick up new hobbies, learn something new, or study to keep your mind off it,” said Rebecca Meng. “Fill up that extra time by doing productive things.” 

“I try to text my friends and stay in contact with family,” said Meklit. “I do homework with them so that we can have something to talk about.”

“We have all been experiencing a wide range of emotions,” said Ms. Lamba. “The uncomfortable emotions such as anxiety, stress, frustration, and anger may be heightened during this COVID/distance learning period. Some students may prefer distance learning over the traditional structure of school and may be experiencing positive emotions. All these emotions are normal.”

Despite the pandemic causing so much havoc and uncertainty, Woodson’s students are doing their best to stay positive. “It’s a new experience and we’ve never been through this before” says Jada. “The good thing to remember is that we’re all in it together.”