The Effects of COVID-19 on High School Students: What We Know and What to Do About it


Nattali Villalta Palencia

We have all heard different stories about how COVID-19 has affected the world.  Most stories that are told about quarantine are rather negative, especially if you ask your friends, and why is that? 

Adolescents have different developmental needs than adults; therefore, COVID-19 has a different emotional impact than it does on adults. This pandemic has most noticeably affected adolescent’s mental health. Recent studies have shown that 43.7% of youth have depressive symptoms. 

A study from The Rox Institute informs us that about 80% of young girls feel uncherished and isolated than before. Many teachers, counselors, and mentors have tried to give their best to continue to connect to young people who may feel this way. 

Anxiety symptoms have increased since the past years, which is around 37.4 %. These symptoms are higher in females, as mentioned previously. Teen’s emotional stress has increased across the board.  According to a Psychiatric Times study, teens are reporting the following symptoms:

  • Depression: 43.7%
  • Anxiety: 37.4%
  • Boredom: 52%
  • Irritability: 39%
  • Unfocused: 76.6%
  • Worriedness: 30.1%
  • Nervousness: 38%
  • Loneliness: 31.3%

COVID-19 has affected a lot of high school students’ mental health, mainly because not a lot of them can go out and see their friends. In addition to that, this pandemic has affected the desire of young people to socialize. Mikayla Weeks, a sophomore attending Sultana, informs us that “in a negative way, I have lost my desire to want to socialize with people outside of my life; I do not like talking to others.”

 Many students have articulated that online learning has not helped them learn the material that is being taught and it is making them feel even more isolated from their peers. Itzeli Santillan, a current sophomore at Sultana stated, “I do not feel like I am learning anything. Classes sometimes assign a bunch of work and expect us to finish it quickly when we have other important classes. I also do not even talk with many of my friends anymore which really sucks. Zoom breakout rooms or group work is really awkward. I worry more about a letter grade than actually learning the complete material.” 

We are aware of how some high school students have been affected by the pandemic, but what can we do to help? Young people are well known as being resilient, creative, and resourceful. We can all help by encouraging each other to once again be the resilient, creative, and resourceful we already are. 

Start with the people you know! Plan schedules for yourselves and your friends and help each other maintain structure.  Check in with your friends and ask how they are handling their experience during this pandemic.  On top of listening, ask them what they are in need of or how you can help them. Try to get to know them better, then find ways to make this experience much better for you and them. 

A good coping skill you can include is meditation and exercise. Challenge a friend to run a certain number of miles a week or become virtual gym buddies and work out together.  

Remember that getting through this pandemic is about teamwork; we are all in it together.  There is no reason to face this alone.