The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the factors contributing to the mental health crisis colleges are currently experiencing; hence, the chosen topic focuses on college students’ psychological health. The article that inspired my choice of the issue was published by the New York Times national correspondent, covering higher education, to acknowledge the emotional stability and personal well-being concerns on college campuses (Hartocollis, 2021). For instance, an employee from West Virginia University discovered an anonymous note threatening suicide in or near the student union in a male restroom. Hartocollis (2021) mentions that the letter was decorated with drawings and poems. Both students and university authorities expressed satisfaction that the incident did not occur. Nonetheless, education experts were concerned that the message was a vital indication of the students’ weakened mental states during the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic.
Numerous students are anxious, disappointed, and socially isolated after nearly two years of remote learning, supervised meetings, and regular testing; as a result, mental health facilities are overburdened. Hartocollis (2021) emphasizes that college juniors who have sought therapy during the epidemic cite loneliness or isolation as one of their primary issues, along with losing motivation or concentration. Additionally, the prevalence of despair, stress, and severe suicidal ideation has risen among college students over the previous ten years. To improve mental health services at Saint Louis University, more than 9,000 individuals signed a petition (Hartocollis, 2021). Students had difficulty dealing with the pandemic and urgently needed support and advice.
Recommendations: Peer-Reviewed Articles
Four peer-reviewed articles were selected to analyze the issue of students’ mental health in detail and offer recommendations. Copeland et al. (2021) investigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on first-year college students’ emotions and wellness practices. In the absence of routine undergraduate students were familiar with and assistance to provide them a feeling of stability and coherence, they experienced mental health disturbance. Copeland et al. (2021) assert that late adolescence is a time of neurodevelopmental risk because of a developmental mismatch between still-developing regulating prefrontal cortical areas and mature subcortical reward-seeking and emotion-experience-related regions such as the nucleus accumbens and amygdala. This discrepancy creates the conditions for poorly controlled risk-taking and emotional behavior. The article’s significant takeaway is that college students are particularly in danger of mental health issues since they usually have a dramatic decrease in adult supervision and parental assistance.
Consequently, only the University of Vermont students were evaluated, demonstrating a study constraint. On a scale of one to ten, college students individually considered how troublesome COVID had been to them. The average degree of disruption was 7.8, and 87.3 percent of respondents reported a score of 6 or above (Copeland et al., 2021). The transition to remote learning and the closing of the university campus impacted all students. Additionally, younger students and those who did not participate in the wellness programs had greater levels of disruptive behavior. The most crucial recommendation is that universities should prepare for COVID-related changes. For instance, collegiate initiatives like the UVM wellness program are playing an expanding role (Copeland et al., 2021). Such programs provide a sense of belonging among students and could strengthen their resilience in the face of potential changes in course and continuing disruptions of the normative college experience.
Universities continue to serve as students’ significant points of professional and social connection and their primary source of authority. Liu et al. (2022) claim that long-term stressors associated with the pandemic are expected to continue to include relocation, online learning, social isolation, and anxiety about health and financial hazards. The article’s key message is that social support often plays a crucial role in reducing the dangers to one’s mental health. In contrast, social isolation and distancing tactics limit this coping mechanism. It may be more difficult for members of marginalized groups, such as racial or sexual minorities, first-generation students, and those from disadvantaged families or with limited financial resources, to obtain and use mental health services (Liu et al., 2022). Therefore, universities should consider developing more adaptable models of care, such as lower threshold drop-in virtual care choices, as an alternative to conventional models where students are paired with specific physicians on campus (Liu et al., 2022). Colleges should pay extra attention to student demographics that are at risk. Virtual app-based tools, including online cognitive behavioral therapy, could be employed. The article offers evidence-based interventions to support college students’ return to campuses; thus, there is no criticism.
Self-acceptance, fulfilling interpersonal connections, and a sense of purpose in life are all components of psychological well-being. Moeller et al. (2022) evaluate the mental health of college students before and after the pandemic. The data were gathered for a short period, from February to April 2020, at one public research university in Southern California, which poses a study restriction. The key finding is that the availability to study materials and peaceful study spaces were significant determinants of students’ emotional well-being and ill-being following the start of the pandemic and the next move to emergency remote learning (Moeller et al., 2022). Interventions for college students may thus concentrate on reducing the most severe access restrictions to resources for academic learning.
Stress was one of several harmful effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on college students. Belongingness, sometimes referred to as a fundamental human motivator, may protect students from stress and enable them to participate more actively in their educational experience (Gopalan et al., 2022). Multicampus Northeastern public university’s undergraduate students participated in online questionnaires for the study. The research’s main drawback is the potential for biased outcomes. For instance, survey participation rates were higher or lower among students who reported high levels of depression or low levels of belonging (Gopalan et al., 2022). The vital takeaway and advice are that, despite the pandemic, students’ sense of belonging remains a crucial indicator of their mental health, highlighting the need for a welcoming and inclusive environment.
To conclude, the COVID-19 pandemic had a detrimental effect on the mental health of college students. Since students require support from educational professionals because they experience anxiety and depression, the issue is crucial. College students are particularly vulnerable to mental health problems because they frequently experience a sharp decline in parental guidance and adult monitoring. Universities should arrange collegiate activities that foster a feeling of community among students and might increase their resilience in the face of ongoing disruptions to the typical college experience to be ready for COVID-related developments. Online cognitive behavioral therapy is one such virtual app-based technique. Additionally, easy access to study materials and peaceful study areas determine college students’ mental well-being. Therefore, the discussion question is whether online teaching should be reduced, and if not, what steps should be taken to ensure college students’ mental health after the COVID pandemic.
Copeland, W. E., McGinnis, E., Bai, Y., Adams, Z., Nardone, H., Devadanam, V., Rettew, J., & Hudziak, J. J. (2021). Impact of COVID on college student mental health and wellness. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 60(1), 134-141.
Gopalan, M., Linden-Carmichael, A., & Lanza, S. (2022). College students’ sense of belonging and mental health amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Adolescent Health, 70(2), 228-233.
Hartocollis, A. (2021). Another surge in the virus has colleges fearing a mental health crisis. The New York Times. Web.
Liu, C. H., Pinder-Amaker, S., Hahm, H. C., & Chen, J. A. (2022). Priorities for addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on college student mental health. Journal of American College Health, 70(5), 1356-1358.
Moeller, J., von Keyserlingk, L., Spengler, M., Gaspard, H., Lee, H. R., Yamaguchi-Pedroza, K., Yu, R., Fisher, C., & Arum, R. (2022). Risk and protective factors of college students’ psychological well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic: emotional stability, mental health, and household resources. Aera Open, 8.