WGBH’s Kirk Carapezza reports on the Healthy Minds Study data from the fall of 2020, which showed that 47% of college students screened positive for symptoms of depression or anxiety, and that the prevalence of mental health distress was up slightly from the previous school year. Sarah K. Lipson, PhD, an assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and co-Principal Investigator of the Healthy Minds Study attributed increased anxiety to “the burnout and monotony of what we’ve been doing for nearly a year now,” citing “what this has actually done to our brains and our neural pathways.
CNN reports that Yale University is offering a variation of its positive psychology class, “The Science of Well Being” to more than 500 low-income high school students across the US for free. The class, which is Yale’s most popular online class ever, will provide students with evidence-based strategies for living a more satisfying life, and present research on how to be happier, feel less stressed and flouriss more. “This is a really challenging time, and that means that students need to learn new strategies to protect their mental health,” said Lauri Santos, Professor of Psychology at Yale and creator of the class. “Our goal is to equip students with scientifically validated strategies for living a more satisfying life, while also creating opportunities for high-striving low-income students and students of color to demonstrate college-readiness.”
In an op-ed in Diverse Education, Dori S. Hutchinson, director of services at the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University and Sharon Shapiro, a trustee and community liaison of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a leading disability inclusion organization based in Boston, argue that the disruption caused by COVID-19 has created a framework for a permanent change to campus culture to support mental health, as leaders increasingly recognize the connection between student mental health and their success. “If there is a silver lining to COVID-19, it is that the pain of mental health distress has connected higher education institutions to students who live with mental illness,” they wrote. “But this cannot be the final chapter in the story. Increased prioritization of mental health issues must transcend these times, becoming a permanent fixture on campus.”
The Center for Collegiate Mental Health, a research group based at Pennsylvania State University, released new data last week showing that 33% of students who sought care from their college counseling center during the second half of 2020 said their visit was related to the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Inside Higher Ed reports on the new data release, which also showed that 65% percent of students who sought services at counseling centers said the pandemic has led to some mental health challenges, and 61% said it affected their “motivation and focus.” Additionally, 60% said the pandemic has caused “loneliness or isolation,” and 59% said it has negatively affected their academics.
University of Wisconsin is working to enhance services to students experiencing mental health crises, especially in situations that have previously been managed by the UW Police Department. A partnership between UW Health Services, Police Department, Housing and the Dean of Students Office seeks to re-examine current protocols and create a comprehensive plan to combine the resources, strategies and strengths of each department.
According to a University survey, Duke Students felt high levels of loneliness, social isolation and concern about mental health during the fall due to COVID-19. Students of marginalized identities and historically underrepresented backgrounds reported greater stress.
Georgetown University is expanding access to mental health resources for students without access to campus. HoyaWell, a new telehealth resource, offers virtual mental health services to students, including free, on-demand virtual counseling and up to 12 free scheduled counseling sessions for all students.
UNC Chapel Hill Counseling and Psychological Services launched a program to improve students’ ability to engage with therapists of color. The Multicultural Health Program features four Black female therapists that students can request to work with. Opportunities for students of color include group therapy, brief therapy, outreach events and liaison relationships between students and mental health providers.
George Washington University students told the GW Hatchet that they are coping with increased pandemic-related stress and anxiety by leaning on hobbies like chess and yoga.
Maddie Loder, a George Washington University basketball player, founded GW’s chapter of The Hidden Opponent, an organization focused on reducing the stigma around student-athlete mental health. The chapter hopes to serve as a “support group” and “safe space” for student-athletes.
Brookdale Community College declared the college a stigma-free zone, with the goals of raising mental health and substance abuse awareness, promoting the use of inclusive language and encouraging those who are affected to seek services and feel supported.
The University of Minnesota Student Association is working to increase the availability of SAD lights on campus to reduce the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression related to changes in seasons.