A video of a student-led conversation is helping to address youth who are struggling to cope with anxiety associated with the coronavirus.
Students across the country are struggling to cope with the mental stress brought on by COVID-19 and virtual learning.
Student mental health was already a concern before the coronavirus pandemic, but now, almost nine months later, it has become even more a topic of serious conversation.
Schools in Maryland are working to address the issue. "Coping with Anxiety" is a 90-minute online video that shows a student-led conversation intended to help address the needs of classmates struggling to cope with anxiety.
"I am a sophomore at Severna Park High School, and I really wanted to be here today because I have struggled with mental health for a long amount of time and really want to break the stigma around mental health," student Jayna Monroe said.
The video shares transparency from students, and a panel of mental health experts who agreed to listen offered help.
"When we look at someone making a statement, it might not be necessarily that 'I want to hurt myself.' It could be that, 'Today really sucks,'" said Jennifer Corbin, crisis response director at Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency.
Officials with Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency said they've seen a 50% increase in calls to their crisis response system during September and October compared to the same time period a year ago.
"It's OK not to be OK sometimes, but when that not being OK lasts for a long time, reach out to somebody," said Catherine Gray, clinical director at the Anne Arundel County Mental Health Agency.
"This is something new for all of us, and it's not something that we should try to get into, our completely new normal, but it is going to be our new normal for a while," student Beckett Hummer said.
School officials said the presentation is a first step toward helping students open up about the challenges they're facing.
"I found a lot of students, they tell us to do these breathing exercises and they say, 'Well, I am breathing and nothing's happening.' And they say, 'Close your eyes and meditate,' and now I can't see what's happening," said student Drake Smith.
"We don't need to just listen. We need to look, we need to feel, we need to observe what's going on around that individual who says something," Corbin said.
Click here to watch the entire program.