The Pandemic's Impact on Our Youth
Insights from School Psychologist Angela Murphy
As the world gradualy emerges from the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, a concerning trend has surfaced regarding the mental health of our youth.
School psychologist Angela Murphy, speaking on the Bigger Than Me Podcast, highlighted a significant increase in mental health issues among students in the post-pandemic era.
Before the pandemic, approximately one in four students was grappling with mental health concerns. However, post-pandemic, these figures have soared alarmingly, with Murphy noting that over 60% of students are now exhibiting signs of mental health challenges.
This drastic increase is not just a statistic; it represents a profound shift in the emotional landscape of our young people.
The reasons for this spike are multifaceted. Prolonged isolation, disruption of routine, and the general anxiety surrounding the pandemic have contributed to heightened stress levels among students. Moreover, the transition back to regular school life has not been smooth for many, further exacerbating their mental health struggles.
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Educators, who play a pivotal role in the lives of these students, are also feeling the strain. The task of co-regulating with students, many of whom are in a constant state of emotional turmoil, is both challenging and exhausting. As Murphy points out, students in distress often find themselves in the 'downstairs brain' - a state where emotional responses overpower logical thinking. This makes the job of teaching and learning significantly more difficult.
Addressing these concerns requires a multifaceted approach. Murphy emphasizes the need for a shift in focus towards social and emotional learning.
Building resilience, teaching coping strategies, and creating a supportive environment are key to helping students navigate their emotions effectively. Schools and parents alike need to be equipped with the right tools and knowledge to support the mental wellbeing of their students and children.
As we move forward, it's clear that the pandemic's impact on youth mental health will be one of its most enduring legacies.
The need for increased mental health resources in schools, along with greater awareness and understanding of these issues, has never been more critical. By addressing these challenges head-on, we can hope to mitigate the long-term effects of the pandemic on our youth and help them thrive in a post-pandemic world.