This week British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest mandatory lockdown for England to stop the spread of COVID-19 and its new variant that started to appear in December 2020. These strict measures mean that all non-essential businesses and schools will be closed. This measure is similar to steps England took at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. As Reuters reports, “The government hopes the new measures will reduce a spiralling number of cases and hospitalisations after the four chief medical officers in the United Kingdom decided to increase the COVID alert level from four to five, the first time it has been at the highest level.”
This lockdown means that university students will be required to study from home until at least mid-February, meaning the steps that university faculty and staff took to help students during the last lockdown will be necessary. Universities this time around will have to double their efforts to ensure their students’ mental health is addressed and supported after the fall lockdown caused strife among students forced to quarantine in their dormitories and unable to escape campus. For the 2021 semester, students will need even more support as the winter continues and the pandemic’s vaccine will continue to take time to be distributed. In 2020, health officials in the United Kingdom were already raising the alarm on the concerns the pandemic will have on people’s mental health.
As reported by the Financial Times, there is growing concern that the U.K. and England are on the brink of a mental health crisis, in particular young people. YoungMinds, a charity working with young people, found that those between 18-24 surveyed this summer, 39% of them, agreed that the pandemic had mad their mental health worse and 41% said it had made their mental health “much worse” due to isolation, anxiety, and lack of motivation. YoungMinds’ Chief Executive told the DailyMail that, “The pandemic is deepening the crisis in young people's mental health and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that the impact could be significant and long-term. Young people tell us that they've struggled to cope with the changes and loss of coping mechanisms brought on by the pandemic, with many experiencing social isolation, anxiety, and fears around their future.” It is critical that universities help their students navigate this latest lockdown in England that even with Brexit considerations, will continue to impact university students in England and across the United Kingdom.
Therefore, ensuring special measures are put in place to help support student mental health will continue to be critical in 2021.
Mental health concerns, coupled with rising tensions on campus and academics, only reinforces the urgent need for comprehensive student mental health support now and to prepare for the residual impacts in a post-COVID world. With Symplicity Advocate, institutions can prepare to best serve their students now and in a post COVID-19 world. Our solution helps with early intervention to proactively identify and support students who need help, ranging from mental health issues to financial advice. With automated case management, robust reporting, configurable workflows, and our unmatched client support, institutions can have all the information they need in one place to enable them to help students faster and build a safer community. This includes seeing which staff member is working with which student, setting up virtual counseling sessions, and providing students with proactive tools to help them cope through this time. Providing student wellbeing must be a top priority for all higher education institutions to ensure student success.