Students’ mental health, grades takes a toll during distance learning

Jessica Melkonyan

In November, 71 DPMHS students responded to an online survey about the academic and mental distance learning and returning to school in person. (Itzel Luna)

As academics continue through virtual learning platforms, students aim to control their mental health that alters their everyday lives. 

“My mental health has not been impacted very positively,” sophomore Giselle Khalil said. “It is harder to stay focused and to get things done. It gets overwhelming.”

Since all of the Los Angeles Unified School District schools will conduct the entire fall semester virtually, students have been trying to be more aware of their mental health because of work overload and lack of physical friendship interactions. Coming to the end of the fall semester, students’ have been receiving a plethora of work with timely deadlines from teachers and this creates a state of stress for the virtual learners.

“Distance learning has impacted my mental health just by making me a lot more anxious about my grades,” junior Rochelle Polushkin said. “I find myself constantly worrying about deadlines because I also forget them a lot.”

Daniel Pearl Magnet High School psychiatric social worker JoAnne Tuell explains that the issues students go through on a daily basis are intensified by the increased amount of screen time, isolation and the overwhelming work stress. Not only has Tuell had her regulars coming in and therapeutically speaking with her but she’s had new-comers knocking on her virtual door as well. 

“I’m seeing almost like a feeling of being defeated,” Tuell said. “Sort of a depression that I sort of, did not see as much before.”

Alongside the upperclassmen’s feelings of anxiety and loneliness, this year’s freshmen class experience a different degree of pressure. They don’t get to undergo the traditional form of high school life. Unable to walk the hallways and have real in-class lessons, the freshmen are obligated to follow the pandemic’s protocols. With these unsettling circumstances, it makes it hard to unwind and take your mind off of the pressure, which gives countless amounts of stress and problems to your mental health. 

“Not seeing my classmates, not feeling the highschool life (triggers me the most),” freshman Haya Abushah said. “I want to see my friends. I don’t want to be all alone at home and on-screen all day.”

Mental health is an important aspect of one’s self-awareness, especially for students who are studying during this pandemic period. The inability to keep up with class and homework causes immense stress due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of due dates can be easily forgotten. Although, students are finding methods to relieve stress after long days of  Zoom class meetings, so they could escape from their everyday reality. 

“Sometimes I watch my favorite movie or show to feel better,” Abushah said. “Also, whenever I go outside for fresh air, all of a sudden I feel happier and calmer.”

Four months into the fall semester, Abushah has been practicing more extensive care for her mental health because it’s what gets her through the day. Mental health is a primary source of everyday life for students and being self-aware is a bonus that they recently encountered themselves with because of their understanding of the significance of their mentality. 

“I went through a character development,” Abushah said. “Distance learning has impacted me a lot, by becoming a better person and understanding myself more.”

It’s been a grueling experience for students this fall semester. With school stress and heightened anxiety, Tuell advises students to use creativity, online social skills and deep breathing exercises to release feelings and built up pressure that’s fogging up their mental health. In any case, if students do feel the need to speak to a professional, Tuell encourages them to get in touch with her and connect through counseling. Every student deserves to have an outlet where they could maintain their mental health.

“It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed right now,” Tuell said. “Reach out for help, there are lots of resources available.” 

If you would like to reach out to Tuell, call 818-925-8062