Amid national unrest and the global COVID-19 pandemic, students at colleges and universities across the country are experiencing immense mental health stress. The resources typically available to students on-campus have been moved online and campus activities to de-stress are a thing of the past. An April 2020 Active Minds survey of 2,086 college students, reported that 80 percent of college students say that COVID-19 has “negatively impacted their mental health.” With many campuses likely closed for the summer and fall, university and college leaders have stated that the mental health of students was among their most pressing pandemic-related concerns.
It is inevitable that student wellbeing will continue to be at the forefront of many colleges. In fact, the Coalition of Colleges starting this summer will have an added question on college applications on how the pandemic has impacted applicants at their schools and life at home. The question is intended to provide counselors with information on their recommendations for all students and to “provide data that is meaningful for college admissions offices.”
Below are five steps institutions can take to proactively help their students during this time:
- Encourage students to set up one-on-one virtual counseling sessions with their counselors;
- Host webinars with mental health professionals or campuses wellness professionals to help provide students with the tools to manage anxiety, depression, and work-life balance;
- Create support groups among students and facilitate weekly or monthly sessions online. Offer a variety of support groups from those struggling with anxiety to depression to racial stigmatization;
- Work with on-campus mindfulness coaches to facilitate weekly mediation or tools for mindfulness during this time; and
- Listen and monitor student behavior through reporting. Use this data to identify trends and support students of concern.
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 after an incident 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. Providing student wellbeing must be a top priority for all higher education institutions to ensure student success.