COVID-19 has not only had detrimental impacts on the economy and our everyday lives, but more significantly increased levels of anxiety and depression. In particular, new research from nine leading U.S. research universities found that 39% of all graduate students surveyed screened positive for anxiety and 32% for depression. The survey found that anxiety among graduate students rose by 50% in 2020 compared to 2019, raising alarms for those supporting graduate students across the country. Igor Chirikov, director of SERU and senior researcher in higher education at UC Berkeley told Nature Magazine that “universities need to address mental-health issues on their campuses with urgency and focus.” Additionally, Sarah Lipson a public-health researcher at Boston University and from Healthy Minds Study notes that students have felt a sense of “hopelessness…”
So what can universities and student wellness offices do to support their students during these unprecedented times?
- Emphasize to your campus faculty and staff that students are under immense mental health strain and struggling during the pandemic. Encourage your faculty to be compassionate and be flexible;
- Reach out to faculty to provide in-classroom presentations on mental health support your campus offers and encourage faculty members to take the extra step to acknowledge mental heal strains;
- Hold workshops for wellbeing such as yoga, meditation, group therapy, and open office drop ins with flexible hours for your students;
- Reach out to students you know struggling with depression and anxiety and ensure them they have support;
- Increase remote counseling for all students and provide online therapy to provide on-on-one remote counseling;
- Listen and monitor student behavior through reporting and utilize this data to identify trends and students of concern; and
- Distribute campus-wide communication on mental health resources available;
Institutions can best serve their students during this time with many of the tools outlined above through the use of Symplicity Advocate. Your students deserve a safe campus and a simple, user-friendly way to report any issue they fear may threaten their ability to thrive. Advocate’s capabilities lessen some of the stress students might already be facing and enable them to easily voice and manage their concerns. This includes seeing which staff member is working with which student, set up virtual counseling sessions, manage workflow, and provide students with proactive tools to help them cope through this time and into 2021. During a time when many regions of the country are seeing less daylight and colder weather, season affective disorder could be impacting many of your students on top of the stresses of the pandemic. Providing student wellbeing must be a top priority for all higher education institutions to ensure student success during and after the pandemic
For more information about virtualizing student services, email email@example.com or schedule a conversation.