The Washington Post interviews four college students who reflect on their experiences from this past year which include facing challenges with race, social media, anxiety, and isolation. Despite promising news of vaccinations and the hope to reopen schools this fall, students are still uncertain and overwhelmed as to whether their lives will return to normal.
Jesse Amankwaah, a first-generation Ghanaian-American student at the University of Richmond, writes about the pandemic’s impact on his mental health. Amankwaah calls for greater institutional support for Black students during COVID-19 as the pandemic stresses racial ethnic disparities: “More needs to be done to help students – especially Black students – cope with the mental health effects of the pandemic.”
In an Op-Ed for Inside Higher Ed, Gary D. Glass, director of counseling and career services at Oxford College of Emory University writes about the role of mental education alongside mental health services, and argues for “broadening the narrative from a mental health frame to a mental education frame that attends to student struggles from a variety of perspectives in the campus community.
Citing capacity issues at most college counseling centers, Glass raises the notion that some portion of students’ mental health concerns can be addressed through pedagogy and curriculum and argues for better integration between these domains.
In an op-ed in Inside Higher Ed, Laura Post Horne, chief program officer at Active Minds, and Kelly A. Davis, associate vice president of peer and youth advocacy at Mental Health America, explore the nationwide decline in students’ use of campus-based mental health resources. In a recent Active Minds focus group, students expressed a preference for off-campus services during this time, a lack of privacy when doing virtual therapy from home, and complex interstate teletherapy licensure issues as factors driving the change. Horne and Davis offer recommendations for university leaders including: Involve students; Use assessments to inform decision making; Engage faculty and other campus first responders; and build on the optimism and resilience that students demonstrate.
In the Princeton Alumni Weekend, students express frustration with the isolation on campus and the strict campus restrictions, and say their mental health has been affected.
According to the CU Independent, University of Colorado Boulder students are experiencing a deterioration in their mental health following the mass shooting at a grocery store near campus. In the wake of the shooting, the school’s counseling and psychological services office has received an overwhelming number of crisis calls.
EdWeek recaps recent data showing the mental health effects of the pandemic. The article cites JED Foundation data showing that fears about the pandemic cause more anxiety for teenagers than keeping up with academics or getting ready for college. They also cite their research showing that a wide majority of students in grades 9 – 12 reported experiencing more problems now than they did before the pandemic. Black, Latinx, low-income and LGBTQ students were significantly more likely to report problems in the wake of the pandemic.
The Diamondback Offbeat, a podcast at the University of Maryland, convened a round table of the student newspaper staff to talk about mental health during the pandemic and the ways they’ve been coping.
In the Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon’s student newspaper, Bella Zurowski, argues that, “first-year and transfer students should be given a mandatory mental health talk as part of their orientation.”
The Tufts Daily reports that Tufts University Police Department is creating a multidisciplinary working group to advise TUPD on mental health issues. Tufts’ Working Group on Public Safety and Policing presented recommendations to create the group, suggesting TUPD increase on-call or in-person mental health professionals for service calls.
The Brown Daily Herald covers a new resolution from the Undergraduate Council of Students that proposes implementing increased support for student mental health. After canceling spring break due to COVID-19 travel concerns, the proposal calls for specific steps to alleviate student stress such as encouraging faculty to not teach material during Reading Period and extending the Satisfactory/No Credit grade option deadline.
In an op-ed for the Daily Princetonian, student Allen Liu proposes solutions to increased mental health stressors such as “giving more breaks, adjusting academic expectations and [reducing] pressure.” Liu states, “the University can make it easier to take a leave of absence… and should leverage innovations from the past year” such as “remote learning, the summer term, and approval of outside courses.”
A recent survey of about 1,000 University of Kentucky students showed that 74 percent said they had felt an increase in mental or emotional exhaustion during the pandemic. Additionally, 46 percent reported an increase in loneliness, and 17 percent reported increases in suicidal thoughts.
Colleges and universities across the country are offering peer to peer health advising. SUNY announced a new Student Mental Health Peer Advocates Training Program that allows students to provide mental health resources to their fellow students. The Student Health Ambassadors at the College of the Holy Cross, started this year, engages and educates students around COVID guidelines. And Lehigh University’s Peer Health Advisors offer guidance to students about healthy behavior, especially on issues like alcohol safety, STD awareness and mental health.