Mental Health: High School Students And How Have They Coped With Covid-19 Pandemic

By Thina Dlamini

For this Mental Health Awareness Month issue we have decided to shine a light on the struggles the class of 2020 have suffered due to the coronavirus and how they have dealt with it.

What Is Mental Health?

Mental health is an emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing of an individual. The condition can determine how we as people handle stress, pressure and anxiety, that relates to others, and making choices. Mental health does not only happen to adults it can also affect children as well as teenagers.

Throughout your life, if you have been exposed to mental health issues, you would know your cognitive psych, emotions and behavior could be majorly impacted. There are a number of reasons that contribute to your mental health that consist of:

 Biological factors such as genes or brain chemical balance.
 Life experiences for example trauma or abuse.
 Family history of mental health problems.

Mental health problems are common on the other hand assistance is accessible to people who are suffering with mental health. People suffering from mental illnesses can get the help they need to go back to their normal lives.

Signs of Mental health problems

Not sure if you or someone you love is quietly suffering from mental health
problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviours can be an early warning sign of a problem.

 The first sign of a problem may include overeating or eating little, sleeping too much or sleeping less.
 Pulling away from people and not partaking in sport.
 Having little to no energy.
 Feeling Drained
 Being Distressed
 Feeling irritable
 Feeling numb or like nothing matters.
 Feeling helpless or hopeless
 Drinking and smoking too much.
 Feeling Overwhelmed
 Conflict with family and friends
 Having mood swings
 Overthinking past events.
 Feeling paranoid
 Having suicidal thoughts
 Inability to perform daily tasks like doing homework or studying for a test or an exam.
 Not handing an assignment on time.

Types of Mental health illnesses

There are different types of mental health illnesses that adolescents go through this may be:

 Anxiety Disorders:

Panic Disorders Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Phobias (this may be a fear of heights, fear of dogs, fear
of animals).

 Depression: Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder), and Persistent Depressive
Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, etc.
 Eating Disorders: Bulimia

 Personality Disorders
 Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
 Psychotic Disorders: Schizophrenia

Mental Disorders have got nothing to do with a person’s physical capabilities or their

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive Mental Health Allows people to:

 Realize their full potential.
 Assisting in coping with the stresses of life.
 Working productively.

 Starting a new hobby or volunteering at a local charity.

Ways to Maintain Positive Mental Health include:

 Get the help you need.
 Speak to someone you can trust.
 Stay positive
 Exercise
 Have Gratitude
 Help those in need
 Get enough sleep
 Learn a new skill

Fear and uneasiness are common reactions to supposed threats, and at times when we are confronted with the uncertainty so it is usual and understandable that there are people experiencing fear pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic that affected the world.

Furthermore the additional fear of coming into contact with a person who is infected with the coronavirus this feeling can make a person extremely paranoid. The virus caused many countries to close their economies and to isolate its citizens so that they cannot contract the virus this caused many changes to their regular lives which wants people to be at least 1.5cm from a person to curb the spread of the infection. In South Africa the virus affected school going children who are doing matric this year.

One million South African matric learners are set to sit for their final exams that are to be written in November 2020 however because of Covid-19 has been an unprecedented stumbling block that has stood in the way of their studies. Schools in

South Africa were closed from March 18 under lockdown which started on the 27th of March 2020 because of this their studies were halted. Students didn’t know whether
or not schools would reopen or if they would be able to write their midterm exams would go ahead. I had the opportunity of speaking to matric and university students Brian Nxumalos and Ayabonga Ndobeni, and Hlomla Mgilane about the pressures of being matric
and university students. 19 year old matric student Brian Nxumalo from Ndaliso Senior Secondary School in Flagstaff, Eastern Cape said that, “I had a feeling that schools were over for 2020, and didn’t pay much attention to my studies.” When schools restarted he was under pressure because he had to catch up and it was too much to handle. He added that, “Coronavirus has affected my studies in a terrible way that I did not pay much
attention to them.”

21 year old university student Hlomla Mgilane from Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, Free State said that, “It was difficult to transition from having normal lectures to having online classes which was a completely new thing it was very unknown it took a while to get used to having classes online, what made me was talking to other classmates that’s how I was able to cope,” she said.

Mental health problems during the coronavirus pandemic has made students feel uncertain about their schoolwork, however speaking to others has helped them to cope with the amount of schoolwork they have missed.

For counselling queries e-mail: or to speak to a counsellor between 8am-8pm from Monday to Sunday, call 011 234 4837/ Fax number 011 234 8182

For a suicidal Emergency contact Sadag at on 0800 567 567

24hr Helpline 0800 456 789

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One thought on “Mental Health: High School Students And How Have They Coped With Covid-19 Pandemic

  • October 16, 2020 at 7:02 pm

    Thank you for putting this important information out there. Acknowledging this is a problem helps people to do something about it.


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