Impacts of Year-Long Isolation Are Deep for Island Youth

A series of articles written for The Riptide cover mental health issues facing Vashon youth.

  • Thursday, March 18, 2021 5:13pm
  • Opinion

Mental health crisis affecting young people needs immediate attention, report says.”

So read a front-page headline earlier this week in The New York Times, atop an article about a new survey of nearly 50,000 young people in eight countries, showing the pandemic’s deep impact on mental health.

Of course, Vashon is not immune to this crisis. But luckily for all of us, a group of excellent journalists right here at home have undertaken the project of detailing the pandemic’s toll on our own population of youth.

These journalists work for the Vashon Riptide.

The Beachcomber’s partnership with Vashon High School’s stellar student newspaper is important to us. In the past few months, we’ve been proud to reprint content from the Riptide.

Who better to tell the stories of youth on Vashon than these young reporters?

The Riptide has always been a great newspaper — fun to read and filled with stories that often give valuable insight into youth culture and what is going on in our schools. News gets broken all the time on the pages of the Riptide.

But during the pandemic — as detailed in a commentary on these pages by the Riptide’s editor-in-chief — the student newspaper has soared to a whole new level.

This week, we begin to bring you a series of three remarkable articles written for the Riptide about mental health issues facing Vashon youth.

The student journalists who wrote these stories dug deep — devising a survey of their fellow students, and conducting in-depth interviews with mental health professionals on Vashon and beyond.

The result is a series of hard-hitting, front-page worthy articles that give us a completely local perspective on how lockdowns, distance learning, missed milestones, and anxiety about the future is affecting the minds of young people.

This is the story of Vashon youth, written by Vashon youth, who with great skill have tackled one the most important and one of the most heartbreaking topics in the long era of coronavirus.

The mental health problems experienced by island youth won’t magically go away as our schools slowly re-open, and in fact, might take insidious new forms. We must be mindful and vigilant to ensure that our local youth are cared for, nurtured and made whole again. It will take the whole community to make this happen.

At the same time, we should all celebrate the resilience and strength of young people on Vashon — which is clearly evident in the work of the journalists of the Riptide. It’s evident too, in the youth they interviewed for their article.

On Vashon, we’re fortunate to have a well-funded school district, with devoted counselors and deeply caring and creative teachers and other staff who will watch out for our youth as they roll back into our school buildings.

But it is not these professionals’ job alone to right the wrongs of this past year.

We all need to sit up and pay attention. Here at the Beachcomber, we want you to start by reading The Riptide.

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