By: Manuel Alvarado
The mental health of college students is negatively affected by COVID-19.
Students are suffering from an increase in stress and anxiety due to the virus. COVID-19 is causing students to worry about loved ones and their own well-being rather than focusing on school which is already stressful enough.
Students are having to manage time better due to in home distractions and other issues that interfere with getting work done.
An interview survey conducted at Texas A&M said out of 195 students, 138 (71%) indicated an increase in stress and anxiety due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Multiple stressors were identified by students as contributors to the increased levels of stress, anxiety and depressive thoughts.
These include difficulty in concentrating due to distractions at home.
Others reported disrupted sleep patterns due to staying up late with thoughts running through their head.
Depression is another mental health issue that is rising in students due to the virus.
Of the 195 students, 168 (86%) reported decreased social interactions due to social distancing. Students are not able to interact with friends and family as much or at all due to stay at home orders.
With little interaction, students begin to feel alone affecting them negatively. Some students are limited to home and work, others just to home.
A broader survey was done in April 2020 by Activeminds.org where they surveyed 2,086 students.
The survey revealed that 80% of the students reported that COVID-19 affected them negatively,1 in every 5 said their mental health was significantly worsened and 76% of the students have trouble maintaining a routine. 85% said that focusing on school and work despite distractions, is the most difficult thing about the stay-at-home orders.
Although they are at home and can limit distractions, it is difficult to stay focused on the tasks at hand.
Although COVID-19 is affecting students negatively, they are still hopeful towards the future. 79% of the students surveyed by Activeminds.org are still hopeful about achieving their school related goals.
We need to find a way to help these students cope with the struggles this virus has brought upon them.
Students still believe that they can achieve their ultimate career goals although there are new obstacles to overcome.
There are a few ways we can help students cope with these struggles.
One way is to increase academic support. Schools can provide accommodations to students that benefit them in online learning, such as leniency or flexibility, when it comes to assignments and projects.
Schools can also provide more opportunities for social connection; such as replacing canceled events, services and counseling with virtual ones.
An increase in investment towards counseling as well as coping resources.
All of these are examples of ways to help students cope with the mental health burden put on them during COVID-19.
We can help to better prepare students in the future if there was another pandemic.
We can help stop the negative impact COVID-19 has had on student’s mental health.