The Impact of Online School on Student’s Mental Health

Art+by+Tori+Evans

Art by Tori Evans

For students, online school has created many changes, some that helped students and others that hindered. Many of the quintessential teenage experiences, such as prom or sports seasons, have been cancelled or ‘rescheduled’ without a set date in sight, and many struggle to manage time in virtual classes. Students at Bothell have mixed reactions to online school. Logan Bell (22’) says that “At the start of the year, I was motivated to start assignments and get them done, but now I’m less motivated,” due to a larger workload than he expected. He says that in terms of stress, online school has both pros and cons, because it comes with “free time and the ability to do things on your own time, but as a student, that makes it harder to manage your time as well”. For school provided mental health resources, Bell states that while he hasn’t accessed any yet, “Schoology makes it seem easy to get in contact,” and he feels that the resources this year have been very strongly pushed, perhaps through an excess of emails. Manoel McCadden (22’) said that “Just being online has made it harder to socialize, to stay focused, and procrastinating is a whole lot easier.” When asked if online school has increased or decreased his stress levels, “Decreased, although it has negatively affected my learning, there isn’t much to worry about, but not enough motivation to do it (schoolwork).” He also talked about the school’s resources they’ve offered, “I haven’t used any of the school’s resources, in fact I don’t know anyone who has. It seems useful, but I just don’t have the motivation to use their resources.” This was mainly due to the fact that “Because it’s school related, it seems “odd”. 

In response to the difficulties and increased stress that have come with this year, Bothell and its counseling team have provided new resources for those who need it. Counselors, along with all other staff, have received training on prevalent issues this year, such as racial injustice and Covid-19. In addition, counselor Ms. Lisa Carson reports that the team surveyed student needs about a month ago, and based on the results, has “reached out to students and offered resources/info such as school supplies, computers, help accessing food service, healthcare, housing or transportation,”. This year, the counselors have also created new counseling sessions for small groups, focusing on topics such as coping with anxiety, and have “contacted all students who indicated they may need extra one to one support from their counselor,”. 

Ms.Carson states that while she hasn’t seen an increase in students looking for help, there’s been a difference in which type of students are reaching out. She notices it’s more common that “students who thrived in a face-to-face classroom are struggling.  They miss the interaction with teachers and social connections with other students/friends,” while “those I frequently supported in the counseling office who struggled with social anxiety are relieved to be home because the stress of attending school in-person has been taken away,”. While these statements certainly don’t apply to everyone, it’s easy to see these patterns reflected in our peers; I know people who have had better grades and less stress than ever with online school, and others who are struggling with the change and experiencing difficulties managing their mental health. 

This year, ASB formed a Mental Health Committee to tackle the increased stress in some of the  student body. ASB president Brooklyn Harrel (21’) states she created the committee “because some of my family members have struggled with mental health,”, and she wished to provide resources and support to her peers going through difficult times. Working alongside the school’s mental health counselors, Ms. Gina Frank and Ms. Kendra Sampson, the committee has been researching to find the best resources for the Bothell website. There are also plans to work with the counselors on a monthly newsletter that provides encouragement and help to students. Currently, ASB has started Mantra Monday on the Bothell instagram, where the group shares encouragement for the week, and has included a mental health tip of the week in the Cougar Cast to help students and staff. Harrel states that “While we are still starting the committee, I am proud of how much love and support we as a committee are trying to provide for our school…. I am proud of the steps we are taking to normalize the conversation of mental health and provide support for our community at Bothell. Our Mantra Monday and Mental Health Tip of the Week are activities full of encouragement, love, and hope[,] that we as a committee are proud to provide to our school,”. 

Harrel says that if she could give advice to struggling students, she, “would remind them that even when they feel alone, we are all in this together. I would tell them that they are an incredible person, worthy of so much love, and that we as a school are so proud that they are part of our Bothell community… I am proud of them for doing the best that they can right now. It may feel scary to reach out and ask for support, but we would happily support them in any way that we could, and remind them that they are so loved,”. Ms. Carson also has advice for you- “This will pass. I know we are all exhausted, but we just can’t lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions. Take concrete steps to find your joy because no one will do that for you,”. She says that 2020, despite its downfalls, may have helped you overall, as  “You’ve faced challenges after challenge, you’ve adapted, and you’ve overcome…2020 has forced you to grow,”.

2020 has brought many changes for students, and our reactions to these have been very different person to person. But whatever changes you face, Bothell has ample resources and help and support you through these turbulent times. Together, we got this!

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