Quarantine Affects Students’ Mental Health, Part 1

Many students have felt a decline in the state of their mental health since the quarantine began.

With long periods of isolation and confinement, and the academic pressures some are facing throughout the summer term, many feel the effects of an extended quarantine have taken a toll on their mental health. According to a survey conducted by BestColleges, 78 percent of households with a high school or college student have experienced an increase in stress since quarantine began.

Some students have felt their mental health has worsened, as many are struggling to do well in remote classes while working to maintain their jobs as COVID-19 continues.

Jhonatan Mateus, 24, is an essential worker attending nursing school who feels overwhelmed by the pressures of working and continuing his education through the pandemic.

“I was lucky to have a stable pay, but when working in retail, you never knew how people were going to act,” Mateus said. “Having to interact with customers who refused to wear masks and maintain social distancing protocols really took a toll on my mental health.”

Mateus felt less successful in school and unable to focus on assignments since he had to work more hours after employees over the age of 65 were sent home when quarantine began.

“A lot of professors increased the amount of work saying we had all the time in the world now, but in reality, I didn’t,” Mateus said. “Completing assignments while also worrying about your health and family, who are constantly put at risk, gives you a new perspective on life.”

As someone who suffers from depression, ADHD and anxiety, the vast amount of changes in his lifestyle contributed to the worsening of his mental state.

“The only thing that has helped me through this whole situation has been trying to keep as much of a routine as I can,” he said. ”Forcing myself to have timed tasks has helped a lot, but continuing psychotherapy through video chat has really helped me manage.”

Katherin Dique, 19, is recently unemployed and taking a year off from school, as she feared she would struggle more with remote learning.

“I just feel so anxious most of the time for different reasons,” she said. “Everyone at my job got laid off, so now on top of everything else, I don’t even have a source of income.”

Dique mentioned that though she does like to be alone sometimes, her living conditions have made it almost impossible to find time for herself.

“I’m the type of person that needs to be alone to recharge, but I also can’t be alone with my own thoughts because my parents are always home,” Dique said. “I’ve just been feeling really drained and detached for the most part.”

While the mental health of many students may be suffering, some students have used this period of isolation as a chance to reinvent themselves and take a break from the stresses of daily life.

Jessica Mendez, 21, is a student who feels her mental health has benefitted by being in quarantine because of her introverted personality and the lack of pressures she would normally face in public social situations.

“I usually like to stay home since I don’t like interacting face-to-face with people,” Mendez said. “Now, I feel more relaxed because I don’t feel the pressure of getting ready to meet with people in public.”

In terms of school work, Mendez discussed the ways in which remote classes can provide students who struggle in social environments the opportunity to prosper.

“Honestly, I think I’ve been a bit more successful because of quarantine,” she said. “Although sometimes I may feel lazy, I now have a lot of time to study and take breaks when I need to.”

As for advice she would give to students whose mental health is suffering in quarantine, Mendez said it was important to find someone they felt safe expressing their troubles to, rather than keeping their emotions bottled up.

“If you feel like you don’t have any friends or family to talk to, there are multiple hotlines to call or text,” Mendez said. “Even though we’re in dark times, know that it’s okay if you ever feel overwhelmed and that there will always be someone there to listen to you.”

(For part 2 of this series, click here.)

Elizabeth Afre is a junior at Florida International University majoring in journalism. She enjoys reading, traveling and writing about music and entertainment.