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Anxiety and Loneliness During a Pandemic

By Matt Nicoll

CHATTANOOGA, TENN ( Students on the college campus are arguably the most anxious people group in the history. Over the past ten years, the anxiety and depression rate has doubled. It is one of the most common things on the college campus to say one is stressed or feeling anxious. There is an overwhelming amount of data supporting this claim

Now throw all of that data on top of a pandemic. The isolation and loneliness this pandemic has caused has been a direct correlation to increased anxiety among college students nation-wide.

College students have really been affected financially as well. Most college students work in nonessential jobs: serving, hospitality, child care, etc. However, a large majority of students lost their only source of income, which has resulted in increased anxiety and has led for many students being forced to drop out of school, because they cannot afford it anymore.

One student, Alex Peppers, lost his job at The Edwin Hotel as a server due to the pandemic. Alex also struggles with deep anxiety, and this year he said it has been the hardest year of anxiety he has ever had.

When asked what has helped him with his anxiety, he did not say medication. His answer was quite surprising. “To be honest, I have noticed my anxiety decrease when I am diligent about following the rules the Center of Disease Control have put into place. Wearing a mask whenever I am out, social distancing, washing my hands and getting tested when potentially exposed are all things I have done to reduce my anxiety overall.”

This pandemic has not only caused anxiety, but it has caused many people to feel more isolated and lonely than ever. Many people are quite literally isolated from everyone, due to quarantining. Some people are feeling lonely and isolated from the lack of human interaction in this season of COVID-19.

One recent graduate at UTC, Miles Mallicote, has dealt with very intense season of loneliness. Miles graduated in May, in the midst of the pandemic, then started working. However, he works from home, so this has affected his mental health a great deal.

Mallicote said, “I am a pretty extreme extrovert. I get energy and feel joyful when I am around others. Because I have to work remotely, all my roommates are in college, and my church is not meeting in person so I feel so cut off from the world and community.”

Mallicote went on to say that the best human interaction he gets is eating breakfast with one of his roommates every morning before work.

One resource for a college student to reduce anxiety and loneliness is The House. The House is a local 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization and campus ministry. One of their main goals as a campus organization is to help students find community with other students.

Jason Leonard, the Executive Director of The House, says being in college causes a lot of anxiety and loneliness, but adding a global pandemic on top of that is so heartbreaking for college students now.

“I want college students to be free from the bondage of anxiety and to live in community with other people that bring abundant life into their own. I also want them to find life and joy in Jesus,” says Leonard.

The House has several ways to get plugged in to find community, that also adhere to the CDC and UTC guidelines.

There is hope, and the staff and organizations at UTC want students to cling to that.

About Matthew Nicoll

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