While high schools and vocational schools in the Helsinki metropolitan area will return to partial contact teaching next week, experts warn that the preceding months of distance learning could have long-term effects on students’ mental and emotional wellbeing.
Several teenagers have reported feelings of loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression that were intensified by interruptions in daily activities and limited social contact during the pandemic.
This is also reflected in increasing instances of substance abuse among teenagers in Finland, which has been on the rise since the coronavirus crisis began.
Soile Tanska, a nurse working with the City of Helsinki’s school and student health care division, told Helsingin Sanomat that while most students adapted fairly quickly to the new situation a year ago, continued restrictions have resulted in prolonged stress, feelings of helplessness and anxiety about the future.
Around 40 per cent of high school students have either experienced or are at risk for severe academic burnout.
Symptoms of burnout include feelings of inadequacy, fatigue that is not improved by sleep and a negative emotional, physical and mental reaction towards studying. It often results in absences from school and increases the likelihood of students dropping out of school entirely.