Checking in On Student's Mental Health
By Elizabeth Flood
That's a lot to deal with among all the typical challenges college students face. It's incumbent on the university and instructors to look out for students and make sure they have access to the resources that may be able to help them.
March 2020 was a month remembered by all. The world took pause as restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic took the world by storm.
UMD students left for spring break on Friday, March 13, 2020, and unbeknownst to them, they would not return to campus for in-person classes and activities until 3 whole semesters later.
It is no secret that we are all sick of the pandemic, as it feels like the conversation surrounding it is oversaturated. Now, in December of 2021, classes have resumed being held in-person, clubs and activities have safely resumed meetings, and going out with a friend is normal again. But does that mean that the headspace of students is back to how it used to be?
After the unorthodox spring semester of 2020, classes remained online for the entirety of the 2020-2021 term, with few exceptions. Whether students were taking classes from their childhood bedroom, or from their room on or near campus, isolation was a universal feeling.
“Coming to UMD last year for my first year was a challenge. I found it very difficult to make friends and it was super isolating” said Beatrice Houston, a sophomore studying marketing.
Although many freshmen were living in traditional dorms last year, they were not allowed to hang out in their rooms together, or in the common areas, said Houston.
“The pandemic is definitely still affecting student mental health, and for some it may be worse now that we've returned to in-person instruction. Online classes can be isolating and difficult to manage for many students and the pandemic itself weighs heavily, but there are some students struggling to adjust to in-person classes or being on campus – some of them for the first time” said Abbie Bennett, a journalism instructor at UMD.
According to a study from the Center for Disease Control, of interviewed adults ages 18-24, 20% said they had considered suicide in the past year. This number was 6% higher than that of adults in older age ranges. College students are among the most stressed demographic in the country.
“Jumping into in person classes after ending my senior year virtually and a whole year of virtual college classes was definitely a wake up call,” said Houston, “The amount of work was definitely overwhelming and a lot to get used to. I have been experiencing a lot of anxiety and stress that I have never experienced before.”
For seniors, impending graduation is feeling more surreal than usual as their past few years at UMD have not been the “normal” college experience that many anticipated.
“After taking my entire junior year of classes virtually, I do not feel like I only have one semester left at UMD. COVID definitely took a toll on me mentally, and I was thrilled to come back to College Park for my final two semesters of classes,” said Julia Farese, a senior studying public relations.
When it comes to managing stress and anxieties around school, it is imperative to take measures in order to take care of yourself.
“ It's incumbent on the university and instructors to look out for students and make sure they have access to the resources that may be able to help them,” said Bennett.
When you feel overwhelmed, go for a walk, meet a friend for coffee, or call someone that can calm you down. UMD also offers services to students through the Counseling Center to promote mental, physical and social wellbeing.