Is HHS supportive or slacking on students’ mental health?

Students and staff still struggle to come back after remote learning

Students+and+counselors+alike+have+struggled+to+adjust+this+year%2C+leading+many+to+have+mental+health+concerns.

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Students and counselors alike have struggled to adjust this year, leading many to have mental health concerns.

Mackx Mize

Walking into the commons at Huntley High School, a visitor would observe the day to day norm for high school students. Along the wall, leading into the cafeteria, a group of friends are gathered in a booth sharing lunch together, and their loud laughter can be heard over the crowd.

Other students are studying and doing work for their class with their earbuds in, and the music they are listening to is cranked up high. Across the cafeteria, students rush to get in the ever growing line for lunch, and the smell of pizza and the sound of chip bags crinkling draws them in.

Under the surface though, students find themselves struggling with school work. Their grades are lower than normal, and they cannot seem to catch a break from the ever growing pile of work that keeps them glued to their desks. High stress in school leads them down the path of feeling anxious and depressed, making it even harder for them to get their work done. It would be hard to imagine that just a year ago, the halls were empty and teachers were locked in their room, talking to a computer screen instead of a full classroom of students.

As the world slowly learns how to live with COVID-19, and we recover from the challenges of remote learning, students and staff are seeing a decline in mental health.

“It seems like there are more students struggling,” counselor Samantha Meinert said. “Especially with anxiety and depression.”

This can come across as surprising for some. Students are finally getting to live their normal lives once again. They are getting to see their friends and getting to participate fully in the activities the high school has to offer without extreme COVID-19 restrictions. Why is there any reason to be anxious?

Tali Raviv, a psychologist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, may have an answer. She says it could be due to a prolonged adjustment period students are going through. Everyone was used to the limited interaction and increased downtime the pandemic brought on and being thrown right back into the “norm” put students in a social shock.

During remote learning counselors struggled too.

“It was really difficult to reach [the] students,” Meinert said. “It was even harder making connections through a screen.”

As everyone slowly readjusts to school and social activities, more students are realizing how much they are struggling.

“More students are reaching out,” Meinert said.

Although the counselors are glad students are getting help, they are struggling too.

“It’s hard to keep up,” Meinert said.

Their efforts should not go unnoticed though.

Huntley High School is focusing on new school-wide initiatives such as Motivational Mondays, suicide response training, therapy dogs, and the Hope Squad. This response not only brings awareness but makes school feel like a safer environment for those who are struggling with mental illness.

Senior Adi Anderson greatly appreciates the efforts the school is putting in place. For her, remote learning was extremely difficult and she is glad to be back for her last year as a high school student.

“[Remote learning] was horrible. The lack of structure led me to skip class and not do my work,” Anderson said. “I feel like there is more support in school [opposed to e-learning].”

She is glad that the school recognizes how hard remote learning really was, and that they are responding to the best of their ability.

“I see counselors, I talk to my social worker, I am in a group,” Anderson said.

Huntley High School is here to help. They know how hard the last couple of years have been and want to help to make the school a better place for students to learn and grow not only academically, but socially and emotionally.