Online School versus Mental Health: Where can we draw the line?

The fragile balance between online school and mental health has been threatened again and again.

JJ Benefiel, Staff Reporter
Originally published December 1, 2020

Cartoon by Sam Rainville

Cartoon by Sam Rainville

The days have begun to blur together as another week of online school passes. We sit down at the same desk and open the same laptop and stare at the same screen for hours.

 But why is that so hard? It shouldn’t be that draining to work from home in this setting, right?


As this pattern continues, the overwhelming amount of technical difficulties, like connectivity issues, can be taxing. Uncertain homework due dates can really take a toll as well. No one is safe from the mental health burden that online school poses.

 Finding time to relax becomes more and more difficult as the assignments begin to pile up. Suddenly, there are five new assignments to complete and there isn’t enough time for you to take that walk to de-stress.

What we are left with is boat loads of anxiety and stress as the amount of tabs we have open keeps growing larger due to the volume of assignments. There’s no time to eat, no time to sleep and no time to just sit back and breathe.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is able to seriously harm your body. Long-term stress can cause health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety (to name a few).

We are all prone to the detrimental effects of stress, so it is more than important to take a step back for a moment when stress levels are starting to get too high.

 “The last couple of weeks has just been very intense,” said senior Sydney Crowe. “There’s five hours of stuff assigned each day and then on top of that, I’m trying to get all my college apps done, so it has been very overwhelming.”

 Not every student has to worry about college applications, but there are several other things that students have to worry about on top of online school. Some students have jobs, others have to babysit younger siblings.

 Before, we had in-school time to get work done so we could attend to obligations outside of school. But between college applications, homework, babysitting and working, we hardly have time to advocate for ourselves.

 Taking care of yourself is extremely important, and there is only so much a person can take before crashing.

 There really isn’t anyone to blame for this. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and it’s all so confusing. How are we meant to tackle this huge obstacle?

 “Teachers don’t really see the effects of their actions on your mental health,” said Crowe. It’s true, teachers aren’t seeing students in class every day. 

Because students are uncomfortable, they choose to leave their camera off. Teachers can’t see how tired students are, and they can’t see that they’re confused or overwhelmed either.

Online school has crossed a line and has invaded our personal lives, making it hard to separate school life and home life.

Online school has crossed a line and has invaded our personal lives, making it hard to separate school life and home life. They are connected now.

Before, we were able to physically separate school and our lives at home. We attended classes and forgot about responsibilities we had at home momentarily.

But now we attend classes in our homes, so there is no escape from the tasks we need to do around the house. We can’t forget about problems at home by going to school because now there is no difference between home and school.

We are forced to face these problems, and it does not help that on top of all of that, there are dozens of homework assignments accumulating.

I feel the same frustration, and I understand. There aren’t enough hours in the day to complete the thousands of tasks that have cluttered the minds of many.

This is why prioritizing mental health, even if it’s just for a couple minutes out of your day, is so important. Step outside and take a deep breath.

Listen to some music, eat a snack, maybe watch some videos of puppies. Take a moment for yourself and remind yourself how normalcy feels because this situation is far from normal.

Let me remind you of one thing before you are off to complete your next assignment. You are doing amazing, and I’m proud of you. As Michelle Obama once said, “Girl, you make me so proud, and I love you.” 

Take a moment to breathe, I believe in you. You’re going to be okay!

Visit the Ballard High School website and look under the Resources and Services tab for the Teen Health Center. There, you can seek out mental health counseling that is completely free and confidential.

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: 800-826-3632

Hopeline – Teen to teen peer counseling: 877-YOUTHLINE

Mental Health America: 800-969-NMHA (6642)

National Alliance on Mental Illness – Support, information, and referrals: 800-950-NAMI (6264)

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK (8255)