Students seem both anxious and relieved to finally be getting back to school after more than a year into the pandemic.
A return to campus for select programs in the spring boasts health concerns for COVID-19 infections, but also raises concerns for students with mental health issues.
“There’s this stress of your education being disrupted, financial stress is huge, and it’s piling more and more as this drags on,” said Chris MacLeod, a clinical social work therapist for the City of Toronto
Students have been facing roadblocks with the lack of interaction by being restricted to online classes and are looking forwards to having some normalcy back in their lives, School Mental Health Ontario said.
According to a study by CAMH, 81 per cent of Canadians mental health has increased during the almost year long pandemic.
“You got this sense your future has kind of been like damaged or hindered in some way,” MacLeod said. “I think that can get you really down, it can make you feel really hopeless.”
Humber will continue to have online classes for Summer 2021 semester for programs who don’t require on-campus needs. However, for the student who are required to be on-campus for their program, the school is providing extra safety precautions to keep all students that attend Humber safe.
Some students have built an unusual schedule being at home. Staying up late for assignments or just because they can’t sleep, staying at home and repeating the same routines every day.
Jazmine Webb, a second-year International Studies student at York University, said she noticed her moods changed over time.
“At the start of quarantine I was fine, but after a while it started getting annoying and I was stuck in my own head,” she said. “I felt my mental health getting worse, and I felt like there was nothing I could do about it until lockdown was over.”
Kianna Kinsella, Dental Assistant at Humber College feels the stressed and anxious of attending school on campus.
“It’s a little nerve racking to me,” she said, “I’m going to be starting my program at Humber soon but I’m not sure what to expect. I know being online and in-person is such a big difference, I just don’t know how it will turn out.”
Talking on Zoom and there seems to be a fear of classmates silently passing personal judgements, or paying attention to something else can be stressful on students who already have a hard time speaking in class.
“You can totally tell if someone is looking at Instagram on another screen,” MacLeod said. “People say that they noticed that sign of, ‘oh, people aren’t paying attention, people are bored’ that you kind of don’t get in real life and they get stressed from that.”
Although online learning can be simpler for students who suffer from social anxiety, there are positives to finally being able to get back into classrooms, and feeling the sense of normalcy.
“I’m sure it’s an opportunity to realize that online learning can be very useful for some students, maybe some more than others, but certainly I think an end to the isolation will probably be a positive for everyone,’ said Katharine King, a registered psychotherapist for the city of Toronto.
It will be a new experience for students to adapt to learning new school rules and restrictions, and getting use to being back on school grounds, and having to cope with the challenges that face some are faced, a study by Canadian Commission said.
“Being back I think will help a lot of students who suffer from mental health issues, they just don’t know it yet,” Webb said.