Liam Bauer had an assignment.
For his Golden High School government class, the soft-spoken Seattle native had to find a project to do—a project that “could make an impact on something.”
He also had an idea.
Like so many other high school students, Bauer spent a great deal of his final year stuck in his room, attending class online due to public health restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But in between texts, phone calls, and Zoom, he said the world just didn’t feel right.
“I was really curious if it was just me,” Bauer said.
Well, it wasn’t.
He started checking in with a few close friends and discovered “people were feeling rough.”
But with ample mental health resources available, Bauer wondered why so many students felt so down.
By late January, Bauer had created a short online survey about mental health and COVID that he sent to approximately 275 GHS seniors.
From the 30 responses, Bauer learned 50% indicated their mental health had taken a turn for the worse since the onset of the pandemic.
When asked if they had someone to reach out to and talk to when needed, 100% of the responses received said yes. However, 57% said that while they had someone to confide in, they chose not to do so.
A little more than half of the responses received said they had attended a therapy session at some point.
Bauer said he was not surprised to learn others at his school felt the pandemic impacted their mental health.
“Staying alone in your room, working on classwork makes you feel like you can’t talk to someone,” he said.
Bauer said it is interesting that while respondents indicated they had someone to reach out to, they didn’t.
It’s as if there is a gap between having resources available and acting on the opportunity.
Without further research, Bauer admits he can only speculate on those reasons.
While there are ample resources at school, such as counselors and the peer-run Golden High School Sources of Strength, Bauer says options tend to thin after students leave campus.
So what is it Bauer hopes to accomplish with his findings?
First and foremost, he says he hopes others will come to understand that they are not alone in how they feel.
He also hopes to see a program similar to the Safet2Tell, but less focus on crises.
“Safe2Tell is more about people calling on something they see or hear,” explained Bauer. “It’s not people calling in on themselves—this could be something where you call in about yourself or text and know there was someone on the other end that wanted to hear what you have to say.”