COVID-19 has increased depression among college students. According to the National Library of Medicine, COVID-19 increased stress and anxiety in 138 of 195 participants, but only 10 sought mental health counseling – the most common stressors were found to be loneliness and isolation from the pandemic effect, due to a lack of face-to-face activities. However, depression in college students had become increasingly common even before COVID, with counseling services unable to track college depression rates.
Furthermore, college enrollment has declined since the pandemic. According to an Imagine America Foundation study, one-third of students with depression drop out of college, and researchers believe that the pandemic rate has exacerbated depression among college students. Newport Institute also added that 56% of students are concerned about dealing with mental health issues, and 63% say their emotional health has deteriorated since the pandemic.
What are the Depression Symptoms?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness lists several severe warning signs of depression. One of the symptoms of depression is expressing or displaying negative emotions. However, showing emotions varies depending on the person, but they are commonly exhibited by being less engaged in conversation or activities – they tend to isolate themselves and spend time alone. Other symptoms include undereating or overeating, sleeping for more than 10 hours on a regular basis, or suffering from insomnia.
Students who are depressed may experience pain without knowing why, especially if there are no injuries. As a result, if your child or roommate avoids you, he or she is most likely concealing their true feelings. Leading to depression, the Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse survey, with support from Kaplan, discovered that nearly one in every five students struggled with suicidal ideation while in college.
Inside Higher Ed also provided data on whether struggling students have someone to turn to on campus, and surprisingly, 43 percent of students responded that they neither agree nor disagree – a large number of data indicating that students are actually having difficulty talking to, or relying on, other people with this issue.
According to Bornthisway/Foundation, many students seek help from friends, romantic partners, or significant others, with the percentage of 18 considered the highest – however parents, were 3 percent lower than those groups.
Where are the parents?
Furthermore, children sometimes would not ask or seek assistance from their parents. “Students may say they don’t care about their parents’ influence, but they still want reassurance from and a connection to their families,” Larry Marks, a licensed psychologist at the University of Central Florida’s Counseling & Psychological Services, tells TODAY.
According to Mental Health America, students struggle to seek help because they are afraid of how their parents will react, or even upset or anger them; it is the responsibility of parents to advocate for their children’s rights and authorities to do everything independently. Instead of judging the fear of failing, it is important to accept that falling and failing is “OK” – it is just a process that everyone goes through in new environments.
Katherine Wolfe-Lyga, director of the Counseling Services Center at SUNY College at Oswego, adds, “first-generation college students or students with families who live far away often feel torn or helpless when there’s a disruption at home, so you don’t have to come home if your younger sibling is in trouble around expectations.”
Given the rise in depression among college students, most colleges now provide mental health services to students in need. Columbia University, for example, provides Individual Counseling, which helps with stress, anxiety, depression, academic concerns, and more. – provides students with self-care resources and recommendations for stress management, among other things.
Another example is Cornell, which offers Let’s Talk drop-in consultations for students who are unsure if the counseling program is a good fit for them or if they would be fine with a one-time brief conversation with a CAPS counselor. Colleges offer a variety of mental health care programs, so it is the responsibility of students to perform self-checkups or seek treatment by visiting self-care resources and programs.
Glad to hear that one in every five college students (20%) already uses peer counseling, and another 62 percent are interested in doing so. Peer counseling programs have grown in popularity since the pandemic’s outbreak and received positive feedback from approximately 60% of students who used the peer services.
Adapting to different environments compared to high school years is difficult – it is normal to be stressed. Thus, college should be spreading the need or necessity of using mental health care programs, as well as college students checking on themselves for the need of health care programs at school without being so self-conscious of what others think about you – because you are the one living your own life.
Read more: Covid Brings All-time Low Acceptance Rates