In the middle of the past semester, college students throughout the country were told to leave the university and return home for the semester as a result of heightened concerns with the COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) pandemic. For some students, going home was not a viable option which left them in university housing or other residences away from their friends and peers indefinitely, and classes moved to virtual settings with some synchronous sessions via Zoom, among other platforms. With distancing measures in place and stuck away from the college lifestyle, there are psychological consequences that are occurring as a result of sudden changes in the environment.
With the closure of universities in the middle of the semester, college students may have felt negative emotions and distress. Other students may be experiencing loneliness at home away from their college and friends, heightened by physical distancing guidelines in place throughout the country (and world) for the safety of the public. In addition, counseling services that students used in college are no longer available at home so some students may not be receiving help and therefore hiding any emotions they currently face. Other students suffered poor mental health because their routine is broken with everything being asynchronous and not in person. There is no structure and some classes increased workload compared to in-person, which could also heighten levels of stress and anxiety for some students. With the university closure also came the suspension of research, internships and any on-campus jobs that cannot be translated to a virtual environment. This also increases stress if any of those factors delay graduation or completion of a certain program in the university.
The article provides courses of action and recommendations that universities should take to keep students safe while also giving the college experience. The article recommends that academic advising and office hours of faculty should be transitioned to remote environments to simulate that experience. This should also apply to counseling services. The article recommends the university to find ways for students to have remote internships, research, and jobs so that the students do not have to worry about delays in graduation or financial burdens. Currently, many universities have given students the option to return to campus and follow all health and safety guidelines or stay at home for the upcoming semester. It will be interesting to see how this plays out and what impact it will have on all of the students and other members of the university systems.
Zhai, Y., & Du, X. (2020). Addressing collegiate mental health amid COVID-19 pandemic. Psychiatry Research, 288, 113003. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113003