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‘I had no motivation to do anything’: 13-year-old student shares how the last year took its toll on her mental health


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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — It’s been a year since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Oregon and almost a year since the stay-at-home order went into effect. Most people started working from home and students began distance learning.

But – what has the last year done to teens’ mental health?

“When you’re on zoom, it feels like you’re living the same day over and over again,” Maddi Dale, a 13-year-old middle schooler, said about her experience with distance learning.

That’s what the last year has felt like for Dale. Logging on Zoom every morning, only connecting with teachers and friends through a screen.

“I would love to sugar coat it and be like, ‘it’s really not that bad’ but it’s really not great,” Dale said. “I never really expected we would actually be online for so long.”

Eventually, she said, this monotony took a serious toll on her mental health.

“Being exhausted even though I just sat at my desk all day or sit in the kitchen all day. I would just be so tired that I had no motivation to do anything, barely even to go to my dance classes,” Dale said.

She’s not the only teen to feel this way during the pandemic. Dr. Robin Henderson, the Chief Executive of Behavioral Health at Providence, said young people, ages 12-20 years old, are actually a group she’s worried about.

“That’s a very, very social, engaging time when you’re really supposed to be pulling away from your parents and developing new relationships and you’re not able to do that,” Henderson said.

Going forward, Henderson said she thinks the disruptions from the pandemic will have lasting impacts on how this age group creates new relationships.

“Is it ok to go to somebody else’s house? How do you go on a date? What’s the protocol to let you into my bubble?” Henderson said.

If you find you’re struggling – Henderson said the most important thing you can do is go easy on yourself, while also taking time to take care of yourself too.

“You don’t have to be the perfect student. Some days it is just too much to get up and get on a Zoom call. I know I have those days and having the grace to say it’s ok. Maybe it is time to take a break from school or even change schools,” she said. “Make sure you eat healthy, drink lots of water, get good sleep and exercise.”

Luckily, Dale was able to switch to a private school that offers in-person learning. She said she’s already feeling better being able to socialize with new friends.

“I feel so much better. I’m just excited to wake up every morning and live a different day,” Dale said.

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