HOW is the PANDEMIC AFFECTING COLLEGE STUDENTS?
College students are feeling more depression, anxiety, and loneliness than ever before. This is based on a survey of 33,000 students from a researcher at Boston University (http://www.bu.edu/articles/2021/depression-anxiety-loneliness-are-peaking-in-college-students/#:~:test=A%20survey%20by%20a%Boston,pandemic%2C%20political%20unrest%2C%20and%20systemic).
Sarah Ketchen Lipson, a principal researcher, noted that “Half of students in the fall 2020 screened positive for depression and/or anxiety.” Additionally, 83% of the students had been “negatively impacted” in their academic efforts one month prior to the survey. Two-thirds feel “lonely and isolated”. All of these figures are at an all-time high.
The researcher, a public health professor, advises universities to have support for students’ mental health needs:
- Flexibility with deadlines.
- Remind students that top grades are not the only measure of their talent in any one semester.
- Set deadlines at 5PM, rather then midnight or early morning times, so that students are discouraged from staying up late to complete assignments, which creates sleep loss.
- If a student is missing from class, instructors reach out to inquire as to their well-being, or at least send out group emails to an entire larger class to express their concern for students, and suggest resources on campus for psychological well-being.
- Be aware that students of lower SES and/or of color are more likely to be affected by COVID’s impact on their families.
- These same students are also more likely to be “facing financial stress”, which can affect mental health and academic performance.
Many of the students in the survey who are experiencing depression or anxiety are not getting counseling help. As Lipson said, “Often students will only seek help when they find themselves in a mental health crisis, requiring more urgent resources.” Preventive mental health education should be a part of the required coursework, to encourage students to seek help sooner.
These findings are consistent with “declining mental health in adolescents and young adults” across the board. Since many people are “more open” they are more likely to reveal that they are struggling. Traditional college years coincide with the onset of lifetime mental health issues for many people, making this an opportune time for early intervention that can make a lifetime of difference. Ninety-four percent of students “say that they wouldn’t judge someone for seeking out help for mental health”, so there is hopefully less embarrassment about needing help.
The therapists in IPN are skilled and experienced in helping young adults who are experiencing depression, anxiety, and loneliness. As veterans of many years of advanced education, we fully appreciate the challenges in working towards a college degree, especially in pandemic times.
Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310 539-2772 or firstname.lastname@example.org Telehealth sessions are available by telephone or video call.
Copyright 2021 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.