COVID survey shows anxiety and optimism in high school

Two-thirds of college and high school students reported increasing support for the mental health of others
By: | October 14, 2020
A majority of young people have benefitted from virtual interactions with friends via calls, texting, social media or emails. (GettyImages/RichVintage)A majority of young people have benefitted from virtual interactions with friends via calls, texting, social media or emails. (GettyImages/RichVintage)

More than three-quarters of high school have experienced stress or anxiety during COVID, and nearly as many have felt 76% lonely or isolated.

However, almost as many young people report feeling optimistic about the future, according to a survey by Active Minds, a nonprofit that promotes mental health awareness.

When including college students, one-in-four young people reported that their depression significantly increased, the survey found.

“An uncertain fall semester has continued to impact students’ mental health across all demographics,” said Laura Horne, chief program officer of Active Minds. “Students are dealing with major uncertainty, grief, and disruptions to their routines and lifestyles and it is deeply affecting their mental health.”


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The survey also showed that young people are relying on each other.

Two-thirds of college and high school students reported increasing support for the mental health of others, and 78% “feel optimistic or hopeful about their school-related goals and future job prospects,” the survey found.

Among the report’s other findings for undergraduates, graduates and high schools students:

  • 56% said their daily level of physical activity has decreased.
  • 68% have benefitted from virtual interactions with friends via calls, texting, social media or emails.
  • 71% said they know where to seek professional mental health services if they need immediate help
  • 70% said they know where to advise a friend to go if they need professional mental health services
  • 54% have coped by spending time with pets
  • 40% have received increased familial support
  • 27% have also relied on virtual mental health support, such as virtual counseling, virtual support groups, and texting support.

“Social media and texting have a bad reputation, but when used well these types of virtual connection points between students are vital to supporting their overall mental health—especially during times of social distancing,” said Amy Gatto, senior campus program manager for Active Minds.


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.


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