COVID-19 has created a profound effect on all aspects collegiate life and especially on student mental health. It has brought upon a multitude of social, psychological, and safety challenges for students, on top of the high levels of stress that college students are already facing – even in the best of times. For many, the transition from campus life to remote learning has called for many academic, social, and personal changes for most college students – testing students’ ability to cope with change. It is important that colleges and universities continue to monitor and assess the mental health of students as the nation continues to progress through changes.
Here are recommendations scholars who study student mental health recently made on how schools should address the mental health challenges for students brought on by the pandemic.
• Continue student advising via telecommunication means. Expand virtual office hours to create easy access for students who are experiencing the normal stress of college life in addition to the irregular learning environment brought about by COVID-19.
• Reduce student stress. By taking a creative and flexible approach to Internship opportunities given the new environment.
• Help students adapt research projects to the new normal environments. Encourage university career centers to adopt virtual services to assist students in the economic downturn.
• University counseling centers should set up options to continue providing college students with counseling services at a distance (i.e., tele mental health counseling). Tele mental health has been found effective in treating anxiety and depressive symptoms and implementing tele mental health will facilitate the delivery of counseling services to address students’ pressing mental health concerns.
• University counseling centers should also provide options for students to join online support groups that enable them to share common concerns and receive social support. Further, university counseling centers and other departments should develop and pass public health messaging onto students, sharing coping resources, and encouraging them to take action to protect their mental health and wellbeing.
About the Author
Norman Winegar, LCSW, CEAP, NCAC II is the Chief Clinical Officer at Espyr. For over 30 years, Norman has practiced in mental health, substance misuse, and EAP settings. He has also worked in leadership positions in both public and private sector behavioral health organizations. An author of four books, he is frequently called on for presentations and as a panelist to share his expertise and experience as a mental health professional.
Addressing collegiate mental health needs amid COVID-19 pandemic
Psychiatry Res. 2020 Jun; 288: 113003.
Published online 2020 Apr 17. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113003
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