College Student Mental Health in 2020
Student mental health is being negatively impacted by the added stressors of 2020. College students face an ever-changing educational landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to COVID’s impact on a variety of factors involved in their education, students are more stressed, anxious, and depressed. This is a life stage that is supposed to be focused on learning and growing as an adult, but the unique challenges of this time mean students aren’t able to access those ideal experiences the way they used to.
What New Challenges Are Students Facing?
The fear of COVID-19 stretches over every college and university in the world. Students are being impacted by their fear of contracting the virus. Many students have had to complete mandatory quarantines as they enter their universities. A time that is supposed to be filled with opportunity, new friends, and adventure now has them stuck inside.
While some versions of virtual learning have existed for several years, it has often only been used for a portion of a student’s education. Student mental health is now being impacted by the complete transition to 100% virtual learning. Every student learns differently, and for some, in-person classes have always been the best option. Now, with the option removed, some students are struggling in their new, virtual learning environments.
Many students depend on university housing during the school year. For students who go to school out of state, this is their only option. Some universities have opted to send their students home for the remainder of the school year, which is having a huge impact on their mental health.
For some, the only way they can afford school is to work and attend classes at the same time. Many students have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, making it unclear how they will pay for college. These financial challenges are creating additional stress and uncertainty for students.
How to College Support Student Mental Health
To support student mental health, students need to make sure they are equipping themselves with the right tools. It is normal to experience increased stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues during the challenges of college. The pandemic is only exacerbating and adding to these challenges. Make sure you are staying connected to the things that bring you peace like hobbies and loved ones. You should also check if your university has any free student mental health services available to help you.
As educators, you should know the issues your students are facing in 2020. Flexibility, empathy, and patience are all valuable tools that can help protect student mental health. Educational approaches might look different this year than they ever have, and that is ok.
2020 is a unique year that is causing students everywhere to face unexpected challenges. If you are an individual in need of student mental health services, consider contacting a provider at your school or in your area.
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