The Chronicle reports that the Education Department and the Justice Department warned colleges and schools of the pandemic’s impact on students’ mental health in a letter last week. Education Department’s acting assistant secretary for civil rights, Suzanne B. Goldberg, wrote about the “profound toll” the pandemic has had on mental health and needing to support students with mental health conditions, as required under federal law.
The Washington Post covers the mental health struggles college students are grappling with as the pandemic continues. Last week, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill held a wellness day and cancelled classes after news of two deaths by suicide. Recent studies show that students are experiencing an increase in anxiety and isolation during the pandemic. University officials are hoping to increase mental health efforts and implement new ways toward emotional support. Samantha Meltzer-Brody, chair of the department of psychiatry at UNC, says, “Mental health has historically been underfunded nationally.”
Inside Higher Ed reports that student health centers are reporting high demand for services for mental and physical care. With students back on campus, counseling centers are having difficulty hiring healthcare workers due to the competitive healthcare market and labor shortage. Staff members are reporting that they feel overwhelmed and overworked while handling all of the COVID-related visits and concerns. M. Scott Tims, assistant vice president for student health at Tulane University in New Orleans said, “I think what makes this year unique in this regard is the overlay of having been in a pandemic for a long time and the stress of that. We’re seeing a significant mental health load, which again is not unusual, but I also think it’s a little different than the typical transition issues that we see. These are folks who are struggling with a fear of COVID, folks who have missed out on their junior and senior year of high school.”
On Saturday, 1,000 backpacks were sprawled across the lawn of Harvard yard to symbolize the number of college students who die by suicide every year. The exhibition, “Send Silence Packing,” was organized by its Active Minds chapter, with backpacks that once belonged to students who died by suicide or donated from their families.
The Editorial Board of The Heights, Boston College’s student newspaper, argues that the school should evaluate their mental health services, implement digital appointment scheduling for University Counseling Services (UCS) and hire more staff that manage referrals to off-campus mental health care providers.