The Pandemic and Mental Health

Let’s be honest: COVID-19 is hard on everyone, but it’s particularly hard on teenagers. It has affected every aspect of our lives. School is different, sports are different, work is different, friendships are different. The list goes on and on. As Pediatrician Rebekah Fenton said in a recent Washington Post column, “The teens of the pandemic are living through a significant and prolonged stress that most adults have never known.”

Under the circumstances, it’s not surprising that teens are struggling with mental health issues. As a result, other aspects of health are suffering. Dr. Fenton says that some of her teen patients “have gained or lost significant weight, in search of comfort or control. Some who had manageable levels of anxiety before the pandemic have worsening symptoms. Isolation precipitates depression or suicidal ideation. More than younger children, adolescents notice and are affected by their parents’ emotions, including financial pressure.”

You should take care of your mental health as much as you take care of your physical health. Mental health illnesses affect the ability to handle daily activities. This means that those who are having a harder time may experience panic attacks, start having a harder time focusing, start sleeping more, start having a hard time completing assignments which make cause in grades plummeting, start having trouble getting out of bed or taking showers and even more obstacles.


Studies around the world are already showing how teenagers’ mental health is suffering during COVID-19, but we wanted to know how it is affecting you, our readers.

The Hyphen sent out a survey to a group of students that have chosen to remain anonymous. When asked how their mental health was before COVID-19, 80% said they were happy or in a good state of mind. Since the pandemic started, 60% of respondents said that their mental health has dropped or they are having a harder time. One student said, ”Corona has affected my mental health by allowing me to have more extra time on my phone, which leads to being on social media, or anything relevant to that, which leads to comparing myself to others way too much. It has also caused me to overthink and worry about things I should not be.”

This is a rough time for all of us. If you are struggling with mental health issues, please reach out. This is not something you should have to go through alone. Below are hotlines if you are not comfortable talking with a
parent or counselor.

By Rachel Lowe

Election 2020: Where the Presidential Candidates Stand on the Issues

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, one other news story has been a constant this year: the presidential election. Although many people have already voted by mail or in early in-person voting, still many more are going to the polls today. Current President Donald Trump and former Vice president Joe Biden are leading the charge for the major parties. Howie Hawkins and Jo Jorgensen are running for the Green and Libertarian parties. 

With only two presidential debates leading up to election day, voters had fewer opportunities than usual to hear directly from the candidates side-by-side. However, the debates and campaign speeches do reveal a lot about where the candidates stand on some of the major issues of interest to Jeff High students:

COVID-19

COVID-19 has been a major topic through all debates and campaign events. During a rally in Wisconsin, Trump said,” We are rounding a corner. We got the vaccines …. but even without it, we’re rounding the corner.” Biden struck a different note in the final Presidential debate, saying “We’re not learning to live with it. We’re learning to die with it.” He has advocated for stronger mask mandates and vowed to make the vaccine free for everyone once it is cleared by the FDA.

Taxes

At many campaign events, Biden has spoken about a new tax proposal. Biden wants to increase income and payroll taxes on high earners (defined as those earning more than $400,000 a year), while expanding tax credits for lower-income and middle class Americans. Trump has spoken out against the plan, calling it a tax hike. His running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, said at the vice presidential debate that Biden’s plan would end up raising taxes “on every American.” 

Unemployment and Job Creation

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.9 percent of Americans are unemployed in September of this year. At a rally in Michigan, Trump spoke out about how his administration has helped create jobs, citing the number of car plants that have been developed since his first term and will continue to grow during his second term. Biden, meanwhile, has touted his plan to “modernize American manufacturing and technology, to ensure that the future is made in America.” One part of that plan is to “impose a tax penalty on companies that avoid paying U.S. taxes by offshoring jobs and manufacturing, only to sell those goods back to the American people.” 

Race Relations

Protests and rallies have been held all throughout the nation following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Jacob Blake. Both Trump and Biden have spoken about these events. Trump has said many times that he wants to stop the protests. “Think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland, the bloodstained sidewalks of Chicago, and imagine the mayhem coming to your town and every single town in America,” he said. On the other hand, Biden said he believes there is a difference between protests and riots. “I want a safe America,” he said, and then added, “Safe from COVID, safe from crime and looting, safe from racially motivated violence, safe from bad cops.”

Although there are many more issues at play in this election, these are some of the key topics. Although their plans look different and they stand for different things, Biden and Trump both have one thing in common: they want the best for this country. 

Written by Rachel Lowe