Mental Health During Remote Learning

Leigha Plugge, Writer

Virtual learning has never been the ideal situation for schools. Considering we have been virtual since the end of last year, there have been more than a few complaints, especially concerning the mental health, well-being, and the education of students.

A lot of the students feel like the remote learning has caused a strain on their mental health, some talked about how their preexisting struggles have amplified due to this change.

“My anxiety has gone up since everything is online and there has been more of a push for assignments. I am always stacked up with work by the end of the week. It is extremely overwhelming,” says Hunter Dickinson, a senior at Thomas Johnson High School.

Some other students have a bit more mixed feelings when it comes to virtual schools’ affect on their mental health.

Anna Arrigton, a senior at Linganore high school (LHS) explains her perspective on the issue, “Staring as a screen for hours on end definitely makes me feel more depressed. But being at home with my family is something I missed.”

It is definitely a situation that has its drawback and it perks, and it definitely depends on who you are and what affects you more.

Shylee Chubin, a senior at Middletown High School, “It is less stressful to not go in everyday but I am really missing social interaction.”

And with others virtual learning has had almost no effect on their mental health.

Wilson Seltzer, a senior at TJHS, mentions that his mental health hasn’t really changed since virtual school, no better nor worse. “My mental health hasn’t been due to school. It’s mostly been to outside forces like other world and college applications.”

Adjusting to this new form of education is something that will be different for everyone.

“It’s easier to retain information in class. It is at home with the change in environment. I have multiple people in my house using the w-ifi, being loud, moving around the house, etc., while I do school work,” Dickinson says. Some students have an easier time, Seltzer and Chubin both said that their adjustments were pretty easy.

Arrigton, in particular, talked very passionately about how it is harder to focus and how the teachers are adding more assignments than in person learning, she also says, “Our senior year doesn’t feel special. I asked for a class waver since all of my credits are done and was told  they are not allowing them (I assume for federal grant reasons). Suicide rates are up and I feel [anry] that I know [somoene] who was victim to this. It is clear to me that schools are more concerned about money than mental health or wellbeing.”


The impact virtual learning has had on grades seems to differ depending on who you ask. Dickinson and Seltzer both said that their grades have stayed about the same.

Chubin says that her grades have improved since virtual learning. “I just think it’s because I’m doing less outside of school and I have more motivation to get work done to make people proud.” She talks about how her grades haven’t changed but it’s because it’s more difficult to actually retain what she is learning, “I feel there’s no option, to either or stare at a screen for hours on end doing busy work that we don’t need to graduate.”

What all the students agreed on is that the school has not done everything in its power to help students with their mental health. Some are overwhelmed with the ridiculous amount of workloads that have increased since virtual school started.

“There are no breaks or time for students to unwind. It is constantly one thing and then another. Assignments after assignments. It is to keep us busy and have grades coming in,” says Dickinson.

It feels like most of the staff don’t try to understand the students point of view. “They barely do anything to begin with and the social emotional lessons are kind of eh, it feels like every adult says the same thing sometimes,” Chubin says. Most of all students are just confused and concerned with the way the school is running things.

“I lack understanding of why attendance waivers can not be granted during a global pandemic. I lack understanding of why they increase our screen time and take away any possible days we have to work on our own. I lack understanding of why we are treated like babies,” Arrigton says.

Mental health is a very serious issue, especially during these times, and it is important to have someone to talk to. That is what counselors are for. They are there to help you through whatever you are struggling with. But do all kids feel comfortable talking to their counselors (or any staff for that matter)? Again, this depends on the students. Some are more than okay with talking to their counselors about their struggles.

“The faculty and such are pretty nice from the interactions I have had with them,” Seltzer says. But there are students who are less than enthusiastic about sharing their struggles with the counselors.

“I like to keep things to myself unless I really need to vent but I would reach out to a friend, not them,” Chubin says. Then there are students who have tried to reach out for help, but were left very unsatisfied with the responses that were given.

I also talked to two teachers, who will be referred to as Teacher A and Teacher B for the sake of anonymity, talked about their perspective on virtual learning and the effect it has on mental health.. Some teachers are getting more contact from students whose parents are worried about the mental health and education of their child.

“Students are too stressed to concentrate, parents say, or their child is depressed.” Says Teacher A. While other teachers have to reach out in order to get any contact.

“Most of my concerns are due to grade and attendance and the majority of parents have no idea that their child is not doing well in class or that their child attendance is poor. Parents have expressed that their child’s struggles with virtual learning because of lack of motivation, not sleeping, too much screen time, and not understanding how to navigate Schoology,” Teacher B says.

Both teachers agree that they have noticed the mental health of students and staff go down. Mostly because of the decrease in participation,

“More of my students than ever are awful. The staff are not happy about how we are treated by FCPS,” Teacher A states. “Several students have started seeing mental health professionals; which I have seen significant improvement in their personalities and the level of artistic creativity and production.”

Teacher B strongly recommends that everyone have someone, preferably a professional, that they can talk especially during these difficult times. “The workload to teach virtually has increased in ways that some teachers never anticipated and has caused an increase in stress and anxiety. And concerns about whether we will be hybrid has also added a ton of anxiety and stress to some teachers and their mental and physical health have been negatively affected by it,” Teacher B continues.

The teachers I talked to, and many more, just want the best for their students and they have suggested a few ways that will hopefully help you and your mental health during these times.

Teacher A says “Take tech breaks, go outside, Exorcise, do something daily that makes you laugh, contact good friends and loved ones, tell people how you feel.” It is also important to make sure you are still keeping up with activities you enjoy and getting moving so that your energy doesn’t lower.

Teacher B talks about what they do to help their students with their mental health more “I always check in with my students…If I know a student is really struggling I ask how they are being proactive with keeping themselves positive and always offset them guidance and suggestions depending one what their issues are.”