College Student Mental Health Crisis during the Pandemic

By: Ashtyn Frazier

WASHINGTON, D.C.( The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the mental health crisis for college students across the U.S.

According to a survey by Best Colleges, 90% of students believe that they have experienced worsening mental health symptoms since the pandemic. 

Navigating the Mental Health Conversation With Your College Student in 2020  | UKNow
Student doing virtual school from home.

College students were prone to anxiety and depression before the pandemic, relying on campus counseling and therapy. Deadlines for assignments and being in a new place with new peers has contributed to stress in college students. 

Student at Lee University, Madison Rose, has relied on the counseling service at UTC before and during the pandemic. Rose believes that her weekly virtual therapy sessions have improved her mental health during the pandemic. 

“I see the same person every week and sometimes twice a week. The virtual meetings were an adjustment, but it was so good for me to have that set time to just talk about everything that was going on in the world,” said Rose. 

A Girl In A Mask Sits On The Windowsill And Looks Out The Window.. Stock  Photo, Picture And Royalty Free Image. Image 147263852.
Student wearing face mask before leaving home.

Rose said that the campus has since returned to in-person sessions.

Students were forced to move off campus and leave their friends behind. Quarantining during the pandemic caused isolation resulting in depression for students who relied on social interaction for their symptoms. 

Common symptoms of depression in college students during the pandemic include: increased anxiety, loneliness, struggles with laziness, and loss of sleep. 

Students that relied on campus employment faced mental health issues after school closings. Student at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Hannah Roe, said that losing her job during the pandemic took a toll on her mental health. 

“I dealt with a lot of stress when the pandemic hit. I worked in the library and could not find a job for months until I finally filed for unemployment,” said Roe.

Suicide rates have been on the rise for college students since the pandemic. According to a series of reports by the CDC, at least one in four people aged 18 to 24 contemplated suicide in June of last year. 

Nurse at Parkridge Valley in Chattanooga, Cindy Lewis, has worked with suicidal young adults over the last five years. Lewis said that there has been an increase in young adults being checked into the hospital since the pandemic hit. 

“Over the past few years, there have been more and more young people being checked in and sometimes checking themselves in. When the pandemic hit we had college students coming in every week,” said Lewis. 

Lewis said that most of the young adults that checked themselves into the hospital worried that they would harm themselves while being isolated at home. 

Researchers reported that women, Asians, students under 25, those struggling financially, and those who knew someone with COVID-19 were most at risk for negative mental health symptoms. 

There is now hope for the mental health crisis in college students. With almost half the population of the U.S. being vaccinated, colleges plan to return to normalcy in the upcoming Fall semester.

Many colleges plan on making permanent changes to how mental health will be addressed as schools reopen. With school faculties and counseling centers expecting a multitude of students seeking help, these changes will aim for long-term improvement in the mental health of students. 

About Ashtyn Frazier

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