Since the pandemic started with lockdowns, we know that school has not been the easiest for the kiddos. School was the biggest adjustment for everyone- teachers, parents, bosses, especially the students. WBEZ Chicago gave us some insight to the effects of what virtual learning has done to our kids and their mental health in 2020...
From WBEZ Chicago:
At the beginning of the school year, Paige Gagerman was highly motivated. The Deerfield High School junior got dressed each day and set herself up for a day of school at her desk, or the kitchen. But now in second semester, Paige sits in bed with her sweatshirt hood over her head. Remote learning has worn her down.
“I think that all the hope and all the life has been drained out of me and my peers, and really the teachers, too,” Paige said. “I think that is very apparent in my grades, in my commitment to my classes.”
Before the pandemic, Paige said she earned good grades. She played two sports and was in a number of clubs at school. Now, she does a few activities online, but she mostly stays in bed, not bothering to turn on the lights for class, not bothering to change her clothes for days.
“It’s really defeating,” she said. “Sometimes, I’ll stay up for hours during the night, anxious about the homework I couldn’t [be motivated] to do. Or about the fact that I just don’t know what to do with all these thoughts. It keeps me up at night.”
She thinks sometimes teachers misinterpret the hopelessness for laziness, which adds to her anxiety. Paige is looking forward to meeting with a therapist soon, a first for her. She thinks going back to school, even for a few hours a day or a couple days a week, would be a major boost to her mental health. Some relief might be coming her way. On Monday night, the school board in Deerfield approved beginning a transition to hybrid learning on Feb. 23.
Paige’s experience has become more common for teens during the pandemic. After the pandemic hit the U.S., mental health-related doctors visits for kids between 12 and 17 years old increased about 31% compared to 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also found an increase in children visiting the emergency room for mental health crises.
Pediatricians are also seeing troubling signs in their offices.
“We probably see more mental health visits than we do sick visits,” said Dr. Valerie Kimball, a pediatrician in north suburban Evanston.
She said she’s making more referrals to mental health specialists and prescribing more antidepressants than usual. But it’s not just mental health. Since the pandemic began, she’s seeing younger children regress, like losing toilet training. Across age groups, more patients are gaining significant amounts of weight.
At a time like this, I couldn't imagine going through school. I would probably struggle too. I hope that we are able to open more schools soon. My prayers are with everyone during this time!