Behind the Mask: The Pandemic Through Glasgow’s Eyes

Behind the Mask: The Pandemic Through Glasgow’s Eyes

By: Safa Touri and Juliette Jensen

November 15, 2020

I think teachers should teach mental health at Glasgow because students need to know that it is not a joke, and people struggle with it. – 7th grade student

Due to the pandemic, many students at Glasgow have been impacted in all areas of health.

An Inside Look on the Pandemic’s Impact

We found out that over 57% of 103 students at Glasgow have been impacted by the pandemic mentally, emotionally, and surprisingly, physically. Online school, limited interactions, and all of the safety precautions have all taken a toll on their overall health.

Many of our peers mentioned not being able to see friends and family. A seventh grader said that the pandemic has made them “feel lonely, sad, and depressed. I miss seeing my friends, and seeing people everyday. I just don’t feel like myself anymore.” Another one of our peers said, “When we went into quarantine, I couldn’t see my friends, I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t do anything.” Unfortunately, they also claimed that school has made the continuous days worse. There was nothing to look forward to, and they constantly felt sad and anxious.

It doesn’t stop there. One 8th grader claimed that online school “has an awful impact on my mental health. It’s stressful, [and] I had to do extra classes over the summer because of how poorly I was doing.” In a report by the Economic Political Institute (epi.org), they found that the education and development of students has been interrupted for millions. “The shutdown of schools poses major challenges to our students and their teachers. We lack the structures to sustain effective teaching and learning during the shutdown.”

We interviewed Ms. Laine O’Donnell, a counselor here at Glasgow, on what she thought on the pandemic’s impact on students. We asked her about how interactions build relationships, and how much of an impact it really has on children and teens.

She stated that while connecting virtually is an option, that in-person opportunity is a drastic difference that can make a huge impact on mental health. For example, a hug is a nice way to connect and in many instances, that’s more than a face to face video. “We are human beings, and that social interaction is something that we crave.” It builds relationships between people, helps to cope with stress and major life changes, and surprisingly, can bring people fewer health problems, as reported by the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

The Importance of Educating on Mental Health

Mental health is a very serious problem that happens to many people in our world, yet many people do not understand the importance of this issue. In a form we sent out to students, more than 16% of 103 responded that they were not aware of the pandemic’s impact on people’s mental health.

It is inappropriate to think of mental health any differently than physical health because the whole body is interconnected. The body works together to make something happen. For example, you need your brain to send a signal in order to do tasks like typing, chewing, etc. These actions are caused because your entire body is interconnected, just like mental health and physical health.

It is crucial to educate yourself and others of the impact of poor mental health.

We asked Ms. Ayoub, a 7th grade health and physical education teacher at our school, about her thoughts on this pressing issue.

“I think some do not know how to express what they are going through. Others may feel alone, and that no one else will understand. Some may suppress their feelings because they themselves do not understand what they are going through, therefore, do not know how to go about seeking help. I think others suppress their feelings because they think talking about mental health is a stigma, and they worry that people might judge them, therefore, they hide it.” This shows that often people will suppress their feelings because they think other people will not understand. This would not happen if all schools would educate their students about mental health, which is why it’s critical to educate yourself and others on this issue.

If everyone knew about the effects and importance of mental health, people would feel that they aren’t alone, and others would better understand mental health.

I think everyone should recognize that mental health is more widely present than many might know, so yes, I do believe making everyone – students, teachers, etc, would be beneficial for everyone so they know they aren’t alone.” – Mr. Tim Stuecheli, Health and P.E. teacher at Glasgow