Quarantine endangers mental health

We are in the middle of a global crisis. Coronavirus cases are going up in Europe again, and over 200,000 Americans have lost their lives to the disease. Safety measures need to be taken seriously so that the spread can be controlled. Schools are still one of the places where many people come together, creating the possibility of virus transmission. To contain the spread, everyone who has been in contact with an infected person needs to quarantine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently shortened the recommended quarantine length to ten days, but it was previously two weeks, an experience which I underwent.

When I heard the news that I had been close to someone who tested positive I freaked out. I was really scared that I had been infected, not for my own sake but for the sake of my family. I have family members who would get dangerously sick if they got the virus. Even though I tested negative, I had to keep distance from my family for a while just to be safe, since the virus doesn’t necessarily show up on tests for the first days of exposure. This meant that the first week of quarantine was very lonely. I spent my days alone in my room and even eating by myself. I felt very isolated. I was keeping contact with friends through social media and video chatting, but keeping total distance from everyone became very draining. 

After a week, I got tested again, and luckily it was negative. This meant that I could at least return to eating with my family. Still, that did not make my mood much better. I missed spirit week and a lot of fun plans I had made for the weekend. I also started to notice that my motivation for school work was getting lower, since everything was online. It is really hard for me to concentrate on lectures on my computer. I find it a lot easier to focus in class. Every assignment just felt like homework and it made the daily workload feel much heavier. Working on my computer also caused me to have daily headaches. 

These precautions are necessary and important, but the effects need to be taken seriously. Teenagers nowadays are already struggling with mental health issues more than earlier generations. Even though the current situation is affecting everyone, teenagers are taking it extra hard. These should be the years when we can be free and have fun. Instead we have the pressure of social distancing and quarantining. Many teenagers get stuck in their rooms, alone with their thoughts, not being able to be comforted by their friends and hang out outside, like they used to before. To make it worse, concerts, festivals and many big school events like prom are canceled. Finding alternative, safe activities is getting harder and harder.

When the pandemic is over, there will be many interesting studies concerning the mental health of the youth during this year. Suicide, domestic abuse and depression are phenomena that I already can guess will be much higher in 2020. There is not much we can do until the virus is defeated. So now we just have to remember that everyone is struggling and be respectful and kind to each other. We should be patient and understanding, so that we can get through this, together.