The Psychological Impact of Homeschooling and Social Distancing Due to the CoronaVirus
Coronavirus is a highly contagious virus which can cause a variety of disease in humans and other animals. The illness ranges from a common cold to acute respiratory syndrome and middle east respiratory syndrome according to WHO. The fast-spreading virus has caused the whole world to shut down. Obviously, this led to a major change in lifestyle. As of April 8, 2020, schools have been suspended nationwide in 188 countries, according to UNESCO. Currently, everyone around the world is practicing social distancing and most students have now moved to online learning. COVID19 has not only affected the global goal regarding education but has also affected the goal of wellbeing and good health. There are many psychological impacts students are facing due to online schooling and social distancing.
Quarantine involves the restriction of those exposed to a contagious disease. Due to the current virus, we are all in lockdown. Currently, there are no major studies on the psychological impact of social distancing. This has caused us to revisit the past periods where a quarantine period was applied. According to the study on “Epidemics, quarantine, and mental health,” quarantine resulted in separation, isolation, boredom, and a sense of uncertainty. There were even reported suicides. Hawryluck et al. studied 129 quarantine people during the sars epidemic in 2003 who responded to a web survey. The survey revealed high psychological distress and symptoms of post-traumatic disorder. Depression was also found in 28.9% of the 129. From this, we can infer that quarantine gives a sense of being trapped and loss of control as you cannot do anything about it. Psychologist Holt-Lunsatd at Brigham Young University once said “social contacts can buffer the negative effects of stress,” this is evident in the study. Psychological effects need to be addressed in order to make quarantine an effective public health measure.
The implementation of social distancing and the online school has caused major disruption in daily routines. Different students are affected differently but anxiety is felt most which is the short term effect. But for children with mental health needs have been stripped from the access to resources they would usually get at school. In a survey by YoungMinds, which included 2111 participants up to age 25 with mental illness history in the UK, said that the pandemic has worsened their conditions by 83%. The rest of the students indicated they were unable to access mental health support and online support can be disruptive and extremely challenging. School routines are an extremely important mechanism for young people with mental health issues. It’s part of their schedule and a registered clinical psychologist working in Hong Kong said “Now that school is closed, some lock themselves inside their rooms for weeks, refusing to take showers, eat or leave their beds,” It is extremely noticeable the inescapable effects of quarantine. We can expect them to have a hard time returning to their normal lives once school resumes posing as a long term effect.
Furthermore, many countries are canceling exams that have caused extreme anxiety and worries among students. Students who were anxious before COVID 19, the sense of apprehension has only deepened
In Hong Kong, the diploma of secondary education exams was pushed back. According to a poll, 20% of the students were 10/10. Students are vulnerable and a major focus on their mental health is needed. Students may be dealing with many different problems at home while trying to maintain their schoolwork up to date. Educators should ensure that their efforts are appreciated and that students are being taken care of emotionally. Trauma-informed practices should be put in order to support students. This means the learning environment promotes the wellness of all students ensuring they feel safe physically, emotionally, socially, and academically.
In addition, a Matter that might not come to mind is how social distancing is affecting children in abusive homes. Social distancing in these homes can result in an increase in abuse during these times. As stated by a police officer in china has seen reports of domestic violence triple since lockdown in February from 47 last year to 162 this year. People who experience any kind of abuse are more prone to developing a range of mental health conditions including PTSD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and even thoughts of suicide. There is a need to monitor adolescents, even more during these times as experiencing any sort of mental health condition can highly affect them long term. No one knows what goes on in everyone’s homes therefore it is important to be perceptive to everyone’s situation and health. Emotional scars should be prevented and not formed.
It is important to not ignore the fact that there could be some psychological benefits due to homeschooling and social distancing. People assume as now you have more time on your hands you can relax but to an extent that an ignorant comment. Relaxing and being happy may be difficult as outside the confinements of your own home there are people who are having an extremely hard time. This is the moment we unite and show compassion. Of course, it can be also used as a time to grow as a person and learn new skills. There are people who are unwinding but never at peace as somewhere in their head there is worry about what’s coming in the future.
To conclude it is key to take into account the mental health of students during these times. Social distancing and online learning have very much impacted mental health in a variety of ways. This pandemic has the potential to psychologically affect many adolescents, which we all should be aiming to avoid.
Strauss, Valerie. “Analysis | A Trauma-Informed Approach to Teaching through Coronavirus - for Students Everywhere, Online or Not.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 26 Mar. 2020,
Chatterjee, Kaushik, and V S Chauhan. “Epidemics, Quarantine and Mental Health.” Medical Journal, Armed Forces India, Elsevier, 22 Apr. 2020, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7176378/.
Lee, Joyce. “Mental Health Effects of School Closures during COVID-19.” The Lancent, Child and Adolescent Health, June 2020, 01, www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanchi/PIIS2352-4642(20)30109-7.pdf.