STORIES BY MOLLY BRIT

Final Project: Deck The Chairs

Published: December 13, 2020

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Mental Health During a Worldwide Pandemic

Published: Nov. 16, 2020

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Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, avoiding the virus is people’s main concern. However, another concern caused by the pandemic is mental health.

At the beginning of the pandemic, people were mandated to stay home for weeks. Now, people are still being told to stay inside and limit contact with others – almost nine months later. 

Image of a person searching through YouTube on her laptop. Photo by Molly Brit.

While this is all for people’s safety, it’s taking a toll on many’s mental health. Being stuck inside and forced to limit activities can be a severe detriment to people’s mental health. 

According to mental health counselor Deborah Anthony, some people have become depressed and unmotivated to do anything because they can’t go outside and socialize. Those who already deal with depression and other issues, such as family issues, have increasingly struggled because of the pandemic.

Adolescents are struggling with mental health because their entire schedules have been forced to change. Many went from attending school every day and hanging out with friends while participating in extracurricular activities to attending online schooling and hybrid classes, with little to no extracurricular opportunities. 

Children and adolescents are growing up in a world where everything, even school, is being forced to take place online. This is causing them to feel unmotivated and experience feelings of helplessness, according to Anthony.

What can be done to help ensure a safe environment for today’s youth while still staying safe and healthy? 

Anthony suggests paying attention to their new online environment. Including monitoring how much time children and adolescents spend online. It is also important for adolescents to understand the changing environment that COVID-19 has and continues to create

While staying inside can help keep people safe, there are ways to stay safe outside the house.

Children and adolescents should be encouraged to go out and take walks, to spend time outside each day – even if it is just in their backyards.

College students are also experiencing an increase in mental health problems.

Now, college is being taught through online video chats versus in person. This shift in learning has been very difficult, especially for those who rely on human interaction to learn. Many students feel purposeless. 

Trying a new hobby can help students stay motivated and feel less stuck. 

University of North Florida student Kelsey Shaw suggests following along with fitness or yoga videos on YouTube. This has helped Shaw find something to do in her spare time at home.

Local Business Owner Finds New Way to Make Money During Covid-19

Published: Oct. 16, 2020

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COVID-19 has greatly impacted small and local businesses and has forced many to shut down temporarily, permanently or to furlough employees. 

Bella Kitzis working on a macrame project for The Wandering Jew Co. Photo by: Molly Britt.

With people losing their jobs and being stuck at home, they’ve needed to find ways to make money. For Bella Kitzis, this meant starting her own business.

After moving, Kitzis realized some of her plants were poisonous to her pets. She needed to find a way to hang up her plants, while still able to reach them. Thus, she taught herself how to make macramé plant hangers – a way to hang the plants from the ceiling and walls. 

Her idea to start making these hangers led to her local business – The Wandering Jew Company. 

According to Kitzis, The Wandering Jew Company mainly focuses on macrame plant hangers, wall hangings and basket weavings. At pop-ups, she sells propagated succulents in recycled glass jars, and uses scraps from the macrame to make key chains and earrings.

After learning how to make these items, she turned her personal Instagram account into a business account. Then, she began selling her products on various social media platforms. 

Social media had become an important platform for small businesses, even before COVID-19. When people were forced to stay home, it became a source of money to pay the bills. 

Now, when going on a social media platform, you are bound to see small businesses selling their products. Social media helps both businesses and customers, as some people can’t physically go purchase the items they are looking for. Selling products online has allowed extra income during these times.

Kitzis said she gained her following online by reaching out to many other small businesses and shops. She connected with local shops that were interested in selling her items in-store versus her own, strictly online shop. 

Before she knew it, she was stocked in three shops. One shop, a budding local business called Cultivate, is known for selling products from other small businesses and various plants. 

After talking to manager Amanda Mahoney, it was clear that local and small businesses are like one big community. They work together and reach out to each other to help their businesses grow. Mahoney agreed that it is nice having local artists get involved with their business.