Mental Health During COVID-19


Gaby Nagahama, Sports Editor

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living with COVID-19 for nearly ten months. The end of last year was spent at home, and Pingree students, teachers, and parents adjusted to a new daily routine. While we are grateful to have been on campus this fall, continuing to live with a pandemic during the 2020 school year comes with its downsides. 

Everyone in the Pingree community is unfortunately missing out on something: freshmen have not met the other half of their grade, sophomores do not get to sit in the booths, juniors try to begin the college process, and seniors are making the most of their time left at Pingree. And these are only the in-school missed opportunities. Sport seasons have been cancelled, productions have been cut short, friendships have been distant, concerts have been missed, and our lives as we know it have been flipped upside down. I could continue focusing on our missed milestones, and I am sure you might be thinking of some of your own examples, but instead I’m going to propose an alternative approach. We need to focus on what we have control over. 

Looking on the bright side of this pandemic is difficult. We cannot control what will happen next year, or even what will happen in an hour. But we can control our actions and our words. So take a moment to think of just one experience where you were laughing with your family at dinner or playing with your pet or watching Outer Banks, which seems like ages ago. Maybe you are still trying to think of an event in this pandemic that brought you some joy, or maybe you truly can not think of anything, and that is okay. Make a positive memory now. Do something for yourself or, even better, do something for a friend because it is likely they are feeling the same way.   COVID-19 has been more difficult for some people than it has for others, so being kind not only to yourself but to those around you is extremely important right now. 

From my own experience, there have been times when I have felt helpless. I have tried to figure out ways to use my time productively. I play ice hockey in the winter, which is how I have spent a lot of my free time, shooting pucks and stickhandling. Like most, I am hopeful we will have a season. A recent study by the JED Foundation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported that the mental health of college and high school athletes is declining due to the cancelation of sports seasons. In the fall, people began signing a petition which pushed for a delay – rather than a cancellation – of the Massachusetts winter sport seasons. By simply writing your first and last name followed by your email, students were able to actually make change happen while at home. As of now, sports seasons are fluid but close to 20,000 people have participated in the petition.  If you are passionate about a cause, even allows you to start your own petition. 

I had a chance to talk with Ms. Murphy, Pingree’s director of counseling, to get a sense of how students are coping with COVID-19 and to learn other tips to stay active. She noted that with most students and faculty, there has been increased frustration about missed opportunities and events and grief from all types of loss and injustice. “It can make us feel disrupted, so structuring your own schedule and basic needs (sleep, nutrition, personal space) is a good strategy,” Ms. Murphy says.  Other ways to cope could be as simple as just moving. It can be a HIIT workout, walking your dog, going for a run, journaling, having a dance party – just anything to stay active. Not everyday, however, will be an upbeat day and that is okay. “Recognize that all feelings are temporary and it is okay to cry,” says Ms. Murphy. “Do something nice for someone else, ask for help when you need it, and stay in touch with friends and family with texts and calls.” Ms. Murphy has also noticed the increased awareness and appreciation and joy in the everyday moments and relationships. Here are some websites you can spend some time on if you’re looking for some guidance to figure out what exactly you are feeling and ways to relax. 

Stay calm

Stay connected

I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by people I love – and I don’t take that for granted, even for a second. I know not everyone has had the same support. It is difficult being  isolated from friends and not being able to live each day the way we want to. Or maybe someone has felt isolated already and the pandemic hit hard. Regardless of the situation, it is important to realize that no one is alone. Emma Carter, Ally Krohg and I have created a mental health club that will meet every Friday during the second half of breaks. Our goal is to educate the community about mental health, reduce stigma on the topic and plan uplifting activities to make our club meetings a safe space. 

I hope this article gives you awareness of your mental health, as well as an understanding that everyone faces mental struggles. COVID-19 has taken a toll on us all. There is no shame in recognizing if you’ve been struggling during this time. It is important, though, to know that there are strategies and resources that can help. We will all get through this together.