COVID is Stressing Gen-Z Out


Michelle Flores, Staff Reporter

February 22nd, 2022


BREAKING NEWS!! The mental health of Gen-Z is a growing issue. Over the last decade, the cry for help for teens who are struggling with mental illnesses has risen with challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic feeding off of it.
According to Robert Preidt, a HealthDay Reporter for WebMD, “Researchers found that 46% of 977 parents of teens said their child has shown signs of a new or worsening mental health condition since the start of the pandemic.” How come? The new lifestyle of the pandemic which included isolation, the disruption of normal routines and the fears of uncertainties were all products of the creation of teen depression.
Before COVID-19 took over our lives, students went through the hassle of adapting to a new learning process which consisted of sitting in front of an iPad screen for hours, and the closest we ever got to interact with our peers and teachers was a chat in the chatbox. We all fell into the pits of isolation, and, for many, it became a living nightmare. For instance, Maydelin Alfaro, senior, is one of the many students at WHS who was set up for failure with online learning as she convinced herself that it would be much easier to learn at home than to learn in person.
“First of all, it definitely made my motivation go down because it took away a lot of the fun aspects of school. When you go to school, you look forward to seeing your friends and working with them. With remote learning, you couldn’t really do that because you worked with them, but through a screen. Remote learning took away a lot of the things that made school tolerable. Because my motivation went down, my grades went down, and my mental health went down. At one point, I had convinced myself that e-learning would have been much easier than schooling in person due to the fact that I had the power to wake up late, stay in bed as I completed my studies and had the advantage to endless trips to the kitchen for whenever I felt like it, but that still put me at a disadvantage for both my studies and my mental health,” Alfaro stated.
Many students like Alfaro were set apart from their normal routines, and that set their mental health in a poor state: a state that almost became impossible to retrieve from, and, till this day, students are still trying to fix it. Studies have analyzed that 20% of students in college have claimed their mental health to have worsened, and 29% of children are experiencing harm to their emotional mental health because of social distancing and closures. After experiencing a year of drastic change, Alfaro has gotten the gist of her new normality.
“Going back to school this year was a completely different experience in a positive way. My grades have been significantly better, and I think the reason behind it is because my motivation has been higher due to the fact that I’ve been exposed again to the fun aspects of school. Participating in assemblies, football games and school dance[s] reminded me of how exciting it is to go to school in person, and it’s something I would never take for granted again,” Alfaro said.
The worst part about the whole fiasco was the fact that some parents didn’t show much support for the struggles students were put up against. It seems to be that now our parents believe that mental health is a “joke”, and the “complaints” about things that affect their mental health are lies they make up in their heads. If you take time to grasp the situation, parents never had the experience to attend school during a pandemic. They never went through the pressure of trying to stay motivated while not having the opportunity to leave the house.
“When I would make my parents aware of my state of crippling stress, they would always tell me to ignore it. They would comment on how I would ‘make up’ my stress and how mental health was not too serious of an issue, but when my grades began to slip, they took notice and became more concerned with that than with my poor mental state. Eventually, my parents grew concerned which became a relief because I never thought of them becoming a source of help. If anything, they were my source of stress, but that has changed for the better!” Alfaro said.
Getting through the pandemic definitely helped individuals build resilience and courage to navigate through the darkest and uncertain times life can sweep under the rug, but some were thrown in the darkest corners of a room enduring isolation, anxiety and depression. It’s important to be there for those who struggle with serious mental health problems and if you are someone who is personally facing these issues, don’t be ashamed of seeking service and/or taking a break from activities that are feeding your mental health. Self care isn’t selfish and neither should you be.