MILLBURN, NJ — As New Jersey residents approach their third month in quarantine, the impact of isolation on mental health has become more apparent.
Millburn High School freshman, Peter Ren, made a documentary on just that, entitled “The Unknown Future.” Having previously made a documentary covering the virus’s impact on New York City, Ren applied his skills as a filmmaker once again.
Like with his previous documentary, Ren explained the bleak situation before transitioning to a more hopeful note about what the individual can do to alleviate said situation.
Ren said, “I was inspired to make a second documentary because after watching the news, I found out that a multitude of people were experiencing psychological effects such as stress, anxiety, and depression due to the quarantine.”
Specifically, Ren addressed the stresses COVID-19 provokes in students. He interviewed Sammy Landino, a rising senior at Yale University, to better understand what students are currently facing.
Landino discussed dismal job opportunities in the economic downturn and the frustrations that build while being confined to a single building.
A key source of student anxiety is uncertainty about the future. Landino said “one of the narratives you always hear is that college is supposed to prepare you for your entire life and right now that’s uncertain for a lot of people.”
Landino went on to describe how in a normal academic environment, students are motivated to work hard by seeing their peers work hard. In quarantine, the motivation to work must be found within, and many students struggle with that.
However, Ren makes it clear that “mental health is just as important as bodily health.” Being aware that the anxiety exists is the first step. The next step is to find ways to alleviate it. Ren suggests many activities, such as riding a bike, reading, and cooking.
Ren also reminds the viewer that thanks to social media, there are still ways to stay connected with friends and family. Even though quarantine feels isolating, everyone truly is experiencing it together. He reassures that “the light will shine once again.”
“The Unknown Future” has already received a positive response from both Ren’s peers and teachers. Watch the full documentary at: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RV62MfeJ_Rg