About a year ago, the deadly COVID-19 virus struck the world. Since then, COVID-19 has claimed over 3 million lives worldwide. To say that this virus has affected the world would be an understatement. Aside from the countless lives COVID-19 has claimed there have also been other numerous effects on society. Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic while others have continued to work throughout the pandemic in unsafe and anxious situations. Students worldwide have had to undergo some major educational transitions. Nevertheless, the pandemic has affected everyone’s mental health.
The transition into college comes with several challenges. For one, most college students are learning to live independently for the first time. There is also an increase in academic and financial responsibilities. Because of this, there is an increase in the prevalence of mental health disorders during young adulthood. Taking into consideration the pandemic, many students have been experiencing a change in routine, work, and school life. Aside from this, students across the globe have been confronting a lack of human interaction. More importantly, due to the switch to virtual learning, many students are also experiencing Zoom fatigue. Not to mention the health crisis we are currently undergoing. Given these reasons, college students’ mental health has been significantly deteriorating as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A study conducted in Spring 2020 with participants from 7 different states across the U.S. examined the psychological impacts of COVID in undergraduate & graduate students. Young adults are among the most vulnerable groups affected by the pandemic given the uncertainty about academic success, plans, isolation, and lack of social life. All of which has led to an increase in mental health concerns. According to Browning et al. (2021), 21.5% of college students have been experiencing a lack of motivation, while 17.4% of students have been feeling anxious. Other common symptoms that have increased due to the pandemic have been stress by 14.6% and isolation by 13.3%. Overall, the most common emotions being experienced by college students across the United States and the world have been negative.
Aside from feeling this way, college students are still being expected to perform well academically and think about their future, all while receiving little to no support from universities and colleges. For instance, the UIUC Mental Health Counseling Center does not have enough counselors for the entirety of the student body. Currently, there are about 25 full-time counselors. Considering that the U of I is made up of 52,331 undergraduate, graduate, and professional students this is definitely not enough counselors for every student to receive the help that they need. Even though students pay $220 per semester in fees towards the counseling center, many are unable to book appointments on time. It’s important to mention that to book an appointment, students must call the day of to check if any slots are available. Because of this, many students don’t reach out for help, since setting up an appointment is such an inconvenience.
As a result of the pandemic, we have all undergone an immense amount of trauma and social isolation. This is why we must recognize the effects of COVID-19 on our mental health because it is a worldwide concern. Also, if we don’t work to resolve our stress, trauma, and anxiety, we could have lifelong effects such as a decrease in physical health, a greater risk of substance abuse, and a higher risk of suicide or self-harm. Therefore, institutions like universities must recognize the effects COVID-19 has had on their students. As well as make an effort to address mental health concerns across college campuses.
Browning, Matthew H. E. M., et al. “Psychological Impacts from COVID-19 among University Students: Risk Factors across Seven States in the United States.” PLoS ONE, vol. 16, no. 1, Jan. 2021, pp. 1–27. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0245327.
“Services & Programs: Campus Wellbeing Services.” Illinois Human Resources, 2021, www.humanresources.illinois.edu/campus-wellbeing-services/Partners/Counseling-Center.html.
“Demographics.” Student Affairs at Illinois, Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Relations, 2021, www.oiir.illinois.edu/about/demographics.