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dcyphr | Addressing collegiate mental health amid COVID-19 pandemic

Abstract 

Before the pandemic started one out of every five college students experienced a diagnosable mental disorder worldwide. As the pandemic creates novel issues for college students it is important to explore methods to help alleviate this future and current mental strain. This article gives suggestions on how educational institutions and professionals can address this rise in mental health challenges. 


The impact of COVID-19 on collegiate mental health 

The sudden closure of campus has resulted in isolation, frustration, loneliness, and has resulted in college students not receiving their proper therapy. This functions to amplify their psychological issues which increases suicide and substance abuse risk. The sudden closure of school resulted in worse mental health due to the routine of college life being disrupted. Similarly many students research projects and internships have been cancelled or delayed potentially indefinitely. This prevents their further academic achievements, delays graduation, and reduces competitiveness in the future job market. The sudden closure has forced many students to return back home causing more tension. Especially as students must worry about transmission of the virus to their family and elderly family members. Finally, a majority of students have lost their jobs which results in financial anxiety. This COVID-19 pandemic greatly influences students' mental health and thus calls for concern from educational institutions to support them during this trying time.  


Course of action 

Though online classes are not perfect, they do allow students to maintain a semblance of their past academic routine. Some universities have also evacuated students from residence halls, while preventing them from retrieving their belongings due to infection risks. Some institutions report considering refunding room and board for residence halls which might help to reduce students financial anxiety. 


Recommendations

The transition to telecommunication is advised however faculty should consider offering virtual office hours. This will allow them to process the implications of the pandemic on their academic careers. Research advisors and internship managers should take an active role in reaching out to the affected students and working to figure out alternative options to maximize their potential experience in the program. Finally, universities need to work on novel methods to support students in their capstones and research projects so that students can achieve their graduation requirements. 


University counseling should set up telemental health counseling as it has been found to be effective in treating anxiety and depressive symptoms. They should also encourage students to reach out to support groups appropriate to the individual student and develop public health messaging to students and encourage them to take action for the safety of their own mental health. 


Conclusion

It is vital that universities give students the option and encourage them to take their mental health into their own hands. To provide them resources, coping strategies, and psychological resilience. Universities are in a fantastic position to help college students stay well in both mind and body during this pandemic and their action is required.