Students worry about their mental health during COVID-19 pandemic

by | Apr 2, 2020 | News

Beatriz Balderrama Baleeiro, News Reporter

The impact of COVID-19 seems to be going beyond the infection of about a million people around the world.

The shutdown of college and university campuses forced post-secondary students to finish their school year from home, and while some are taking it as an early break from school, others feel it’s been impacting their mental health.

Classrooms full of students and teachers were replaced with a never-ending exchange of emails and online video sessions that don’t always run smoothly.

Although technology has provided a platform for classes to continue, it doesn’t replace a real classroom with the constant human interaction that can be fundamental for learning.

Alberto Mergulhão, a second-year student of the Multimedia Design and Development program at Humber College, is one of the students feeling uneasy as confirmed cases of the disease increase by the hour.

“I’m getting more anxious how everything will be after this moment passes, so I’m planning ways to leave this moment in the best outcome I can,” he said. “It’s not easy, some days I chill more, and others I’m more productive.”

With all three Humber campuses closed, as well as the University of Guelph-Humber, it may be hard for students who count on their on-campus councilors to get help in stressful situations.

Humber College is still offering support to although the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre is closed.

Karleigh Darnay, Youth Engagement Initiative Coordinator at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), says the list of concerns can be long for people. Among them include fearing they or loved ones becoming infected, concerns about work, earning money or finishing school, working out ways to support and manage their personal relationships, and uncertainty about what services and supports are still available.

Darnay noticed people have been supporting each other online through conversations about COVID-19.

“It’s important to work together to ensure that young people feel more comfortable in recognizing ways to support their mental health and having conversations when they need more support or knowing who they can reach out to,” she said.

“It has also been great to see how young people are coming together to start conversations about the importance of supporting mental health and sharing tips with other youth,” Darnay said.

Even after the government’s decision of only allowing essential services to remain open, support services are available to students struggling with anxiety or other mental-health related problems.

“Across Toronto there are many different supports for youth, including three Youth Wellness Hub Ontario sites and multiple ‘What’s up’ walk-in clinics,” Darnay said. “Young people can also call or text Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) or other helplines.”

Darnay advises those who are in need of more support or are experiencing a crisis to talk to a healthcare professional, someone you trust, or go to the nearest emergency department.

CAMH has also created multiple tip sheets for people on how to deal with stress and managing their mental health during the outbreak on their website and social media.