Seniors more stressed than ever as counselors, teachers see rise in anxiety stemming from COVID-19

After high school, the next chapter in a young person's life can be unsettling. Especially for kids who have grown accustomed to a routine.
Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 7:38 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - As seniors take their final tests, they are also diligently preparing for the next chapter in their lives. They are trying to determine which school to head off to and what career or passion to pursue. It’s a stressful time, made even more challenging due to COVID-19.

Kids go to school for over a decade, but eventually, the time comes when their names echo across the Coast Coliseum, and they’re no longer high school students.

”May can be very stressful for our students because we are kind of ending one chapter of their life and they’re getting ready to start the next,” said Vancleave High School Counselor Becky Wages.

The next chapter is a mystery, and the unknown can be very unsettling, especially for kids who have grown accustomed to a routine and seeing their friends five times a week.

”I think it is just that level of uncertainty, maybe, about what is going to happen next, if I do this next step or take this next step. Is it going to be what I envision, what I want it to be, or am I going to be put into a situation where everything I thought was going to happen is going to be basically turned upside down,” said Ocean Springs High School Counselor Lien Linero.

Recently, that’s all kids, and really the world, have experienced. COVID-19 took lives, destroyed routines, hopes and dreams, and even now is still greatly affecting the mindset and abilities of young students.

”It became very difficult because some kids that didn’t necessarily previously have anxiety developed it or had some symptoms of it,” Wages said.

The weight of the unknown, combined with some student’s lofty expectations of themselves was always a difficult duo to overcome, but educators believe COVID-19 and the pandemic’s ripple effects, such as virtual learning, to be the cause of a lot of this year’s stress.

”Their stress levels have definitely increased. For the students, you can see it on their faces, on their shoulders, but I also let them know they can see it on the teachers’ shoulders. They’re not in this by themselves; teachers are stressed,” said Ocean Springs teacher Lamenda Hase.

As are administrators, including Jackson County Superintendent John Strycker.

”It’s stressful for everybody. Even though I’m 54, I remember those decisions. It’s a stressful time for the students, parents, teachers and school administration as well. It’s stressful for everyone anyway, let alone with COVID, it added another barrier of stress,” Strycker said.

It’s a barrier that many will overcome as they walk across the stage later this month. May is mental health awareness month, and if you are struggling with anxiety, or need help, you can find additional resources by clicking here.

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