PHOENIX - It's no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has been incredibly tough on students and teachers as they have had to pivot to online learning.
It was revealed that mental health in this group is actually declining as they try to keep up with the day to day changes, and a number of Valley students and educators can attest to the issues they're facing.
School counselor appointments are full, and now teachers and students are working to step in as counselors themselves.
They say something needs to be done.
“I am in correspondence through email, Webex and talking students through emotional meltdowns every week. It is hard to witness that as an educator," said Elise Villescaz, a teacher in the Valley.
Her students are struggling as they try and keep up with online learning without an emotional connection, and high school students in Gilbert and Phoenix are echoing those emotions.
Dylan Lifshitz is a senior at Sunnyslope High School and says, “You can Facetime and hop on Zoom calls, but it is not the same. You can't reach people on the same level."
Eman Massoud attends Gilbert Classical Academy and says he too was struggling.
“I was struggling. I needed that student to teacher connection," he said.
Adrianna Parrino, a Valley high school student at Arete Preparatory Academy, says she's seeing an increase in her classmates struggling and requesting help from school counselors.
“Everyone’s mental health is suffering. You have to wait a week to two weeks in advance to talk to someone about mental health. It is concerning," Parrino said.
As a result, she as a peer is stepping in to help others, and so are the teachers.
Jessica Green is a high school science teacher and says, “I have personally had to speak to students about food insecurity, homelessness and parents losing jobs and parents hospitalized due to COVID.”
Now that the entire education system has shifted, accommodations are asked to be made in terms of mental health, otherwise, there could be another crisis in schools.
Many schools don’t have a counselor on campus, but some students say with in-person learning, it allowed for that connection they are longing for now.