Stressed Over Online School? Mr. Johnston Offers Advice

Clara Malone, Visuals Editor

Under the new guidelines set in place by the CDC and Governor Inslee, it is very important to stay safe and healthy in quarantine. However, as the pressure of school adds up, and social distancing can feel completely isolating, it is just as important for students to take care of their mental health.

When asked about how the pandemic has been especially difficult for teens, Seattle Prep counselor Mr. Johnston said, “developmentally this is a crucial time in one’s identity formation and learning to be independent. Relationships with peers are a vital component of how that identity takes shape and in the absence of being around each other (at least in a normal way) it can cause problems.”

Because students are not seeing each other every day, they are not able to make their relationships go further and get closer with their friends, as communication can be very difficult. “I also feel that there has been a shortage of fun and feeling joy that often comes from being around peers and friends. Naturally that is going to have an impact on mental health” explained Johnston.

This time may be even more difficult for under classmen, as they have not gotten the opportunity to get to know their peers and meet their new friends in person.

If it is crucial for teens to engage with their peers often, how can that be done without going to school? Johnston explained that although it is not ideal, gathering virtually can still be a great option for seeing friends and acquaintances. “Some people are able to see a few friends in person which is great if done in a safe manner. Otherwise calling, texting or video calling are all ways to stay connected to others.  For some people their families are helpful in reducing isolation and loneliness. Setting up regular times to get together to do a fun activity with a friend or group can provide something to look forward to even if it is virtual.”

There are always options to socialize, even if it may not be exactly the same as meeting in person. Whether it be meeting with friends over zoom, or socially distanced hangouts outdoors, following the guidelines of course.

Lastly, when struggling with mental health, it is always important to remember that no one at Seattle Prep is alone in this. “You are not alone, and you do not have to go through this difficult time by yourself. Reach out to friends, loved ones, counselors and teachers,” said Johnston, “There is light at the end of this pandemic tunnel, and we need to support each other to get through it.”