What’s Similar About Mental Disease and Pandemics


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Many adolescent students have been struggling with mental health worsened by the current Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s interesting how many students are in the middle of a period in which they have to tell their loved ones that what they’re experiencing is not a phase.

This is a joke that’s spread around with ease — a child, arms folded, hair askew, homework scattered across their bed, calling out to their mother, it’s not a phase, mom! However, I don’t agree when this joke mentions mental health. In that case, it’s oftentimes unsaid that the son or daughter is usually right.

Nowadays, it’s much too ordinary to scroll down on a YouTube video and find people crying out for help in the comments. Children, teenagers, and adults often write about their mental challenges wherever they can, just for a release. In other cases, there are classmates who talk for hours about their struggles with friends, but flinch whenever the idea of a therapist or helpline is suggested. I, myself, have been at the receiving end of several of these conversations, and have watched sadly as my fellow peers refuse the help they need.

Some can’t afford medical treatment. There are others who do not trust someone they do not know well, no matter how qualified they might be. In most, they simply feel more comfortable speaking to their loved ones, but since not everyone has strong relationships with friends and families, a number of students don’t get the chance to open up at all.

Since the pandemic is still a threat, students with strong mental health are becoming more rare. And one of my more controversial points is the idea that therapists and psychiatrists know this; and instead of offering increased assistance, they raise their prices.

But, in their perspective, they are simply chasing success by capitalizing on their opportunities. So are you and I.

Anxieties about success, schoolwork, and the future are just some of the stress-related problems that have become widespread with the pandemic. A common mental complication would be depression – for example, not wanting to do your homework, but lacking the interest for hobbies you could spend time on instead. Another is anxiety, which could be the root of both obsessive compulsive disorder and depression, and post traumatic stress disorder – like watching a family member pass away due to coronavirus and dealing with the trauma.

Despite the state of the community around us, school has opened right in the center of everything. I am certain that responsible students and teachers are working their hardest to ensure that the virus does not spread, but there are still forty-six current quarantines. The fear of being infected, as well as the fear of the consequences if you are identified as infected, is destroying the mental health of teenagers.

The situation that I mentioned earlier, about adolescents refusing to seek help for mental illnesses, is quite similar to refusing to be tested. There is the chance that, if you are positive for Covid-19, you could be isolated by your group of friends, hated for unknowingly transferring the virus, or end up struggling to catch up on schoolwork when you return from quarantine. Certain expectations, like the ones associated with teenagers and having flawless mental health, are what prevent them from receiving support.

Now, I would like to introduce my advice. Firstly, you should ask questions from a hotline or licensed therapist. I know that schools provide several numbers to counseling hotlines and the majority are free and anonymous. The upcoming links have been taken directly from Piscataway High School’s record of helplines on Schoology: 1-800-273-8255 (The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) and the 1-800-RUNAWAY (The National Runaway Safeline). There are also in-school services for mental health, such as various havens, and appointments with assigned counselors.

Secondly, I can help address some questions that students, specifically juniors, have since they are in what is, arguably, their most important and stressful year. One question that was asked was how to deal with uncertainties about the future. An idea that I live by is to focus your efforts on your passions. If you are truly passionate about the career path you are choosing, put as much effort into it as you can. Let the rest be decided as it happens. If you aren’t putting your full strength into every day, then you are allowed to be upset when you don’t achieve your goals. But if you are trying your hardest, simply move on to another achievement. Have faith that you will improve.

Always, always share your thoughts — if you are comfortable. However, sometimes you will have to crawl out of your shell even if you aren’t comfortable, if only to protect yourself from succumbing to problems. Depression can be treated with prescribed medicine, exercise, activities, and relaxing time spent. Obsessive compulsive disorder can also be treated with prescribed medicine and slowly retracting from the tendencies you’re controlled by. Post traumatic stress disorder can be faced by engaging in a support group, altering your lifestyle, and other ways. The main conclusion is that these illnesses shouldn’t be seen as ordinary phases that a teenager can move through and overcome on their own.

Also, we know that Covid-19 is not going to leave by itself. And even if every case is eradicated, the paranoia will remain. That’s why everyone has to understand how to handle it, and the unfortunate victims who are affected. It’s important to think critically before pointing fingers after an outbreak — or to not point fingers at all. Just remember that there are very few people in the world cruel enough to spread the virus on purpose.

And for the students who are seated on their beds, hair askew, arms folded, surrounded by homework and parents that won’t heed their words — I see you. Having a mental illness shouldn’t be seen as a phase, but it won’t last forever either.