World Mental Health Day: Coronavirus affecting student mental well-being

As world mental health day approaches on October 10 and Coronavirus restrictions look set to continue, many students are questioning what mental challenges they will face in the coming months.

Students have reported increased feelings of loneliness and anxiety throughout the pandemic, according to YouGov, and there are growing fears among students that a second lockdown could have consequences for their mental health.

Second-year photography student at Kingston University Violet Barrows said: “The socialising side of university really helps to keep me motivated in terms of work and sharing ideas, or even just keeping friendships, now I feel like I’m doing my degree alone.”

In an interview with ITV on October 2, Boris Johnson said that a potential London lockdown and other strict measures are under “constant review” as the virus continues to spread.

Kingston, along with other universities, has opted for a mixture of online lectures and socially-distanced workshops on campus.

However, this approach could potentially need to shift to 100 per cent online teaching, if tougher restrictions were introduced.

Need for connection

Chartered counselling psychologist Jessica Valentine said she feared the consequences of online learning and online socialising. 

She said: “Students are social creatures and when that’s cut off, it’s like a feeling of bereavement.

“We are humans that need to connect with people…physically, spiritually, emotionally, not just through screens.”

Statistics gathered by the Mental Health Foundation found that full-time students were significantly more likely to report suicidal thoughts and much more likely to feel lonely than the overall population during the pandemic, with 36 per cent reporting feelings of loneliness.

Young people adversely affected 

Foundation-year wildlife ecology and conservation student at UWE Bristol James Goodbody said: “The pandemic has truly shown that young people, particularly Gen-Z, are the most highly disregarded and disrespected.”

Outside of University, initiatives such as the 12 month prevention programme, set up by South West London and St. George’s Mental Health NHS Trust at the Covid-19: Preventing a Mental Health Crisis Summit, have been created.

The prevention programme aims to tackle the impact Covid-19 may have on the mental wellbeing of South West London residents, including a specific focus on helping young people.

First-year nursing student at Kingston Shekira Serwah said: “I’m missing out on the best years of my life.” 

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