Written by Jessica Brunskill
As we are all aware, the Covid-19 lockdown of 2020/21 has had a huge financial, social, physical and mental health impact on all of us across the world. A study led by the University of Glasgow examined the effects of Covid-19 during the height of the global pandemic.
The Department of Health in England said it was increasing investment into mental health services. However, in particular, it is evidently university students who are increasingly struggling with the lack of contact and support from their universities and it potentially should be the focus of the Department of Health to help students to get back on their feet and feel supported.
Covid has proven to have a horrific effect on people’s mental health. 3077 people in the UK were sampled in the University of Glasgow study and a range of mental health factors were assessed including depression, loneliness, suicide attempts, self-harm and anxiety. The study also found suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10% and they were the highest amongst young adults (18-29 years).
Professor Rory O’Connor, who led the study, stated that “levels of anxiety decreased during the same period of time, however that relates to the past.” He added that “Suicidal thoughts are about looking to the future.” The uncertainty of the economic state of the country is putting an extra burden on everyone’s lives, on top of worrying about unemployment and the lives of so many, including loved ones.
According to Mind almost three quarters (73%) of students have said that their mental health declined massively during lockdown. Awful right? This is on top of which is already a stressful time in their lives, Covid-19 is adding extra worries to their mental list. It is causing stress about finances due to the furlough scheme as well as job loss, which millions have suffered from. From personal experience and the experience of many others, it is safe to say that students are disappointed with the lack of help and one to one support that students aren’t getting.
The lack of routine and not being able to take classes on university campus is also a struggle, it comes hand in hand with having a lack of motivation which circles back to the loneliness factor of not being able to see family/friends/loved ones. It is one big vicious circle.
A potential solution? Tell me more! Investing in activities such as outdoor activities and exercise could really boost the morale of the general public, uplifting their moods and potentially help improve mental health issues. As well as this, encouraging people to spend less time following the news as most of their media coverage is negative and can be draining and depressing to watch.
If the media covered more positive topics in the news, then potentially people would feel more positive and feel a sense of escapism from all the doom and gloom of the pandemic.
Yelena Zylko, 22, first year psychology student at Sussex University said to The Telegraph “The constant anxiety is crippling and there’s a six-month wait for support.” Yelena has explained her struggle with feeling like students are the one to blame for rising Covid rates in university towns. Yelena also made a valid point explaining how students are getting further into debt by baying for housing they’re not even using. Yelena explained she feels not returning to her house at University will result in her mental health suffering, which speaks for a lot of students amid this difficult time.
Listening to Yelena’s story really brought it home to me, personally. As a student myself, I know the struggles of living away from home and having a degree to get through is tough. Dealing with emotions from homesickness, to stress and anxiety is overwhelming at the best of times, however trying to keep afloat with the amount of university work makes it much harder. Speaking to friends that are also students, including my house mates, I’m reassured that I’m not the only one feeling this way, however it is a big worry to know that so many other students are feeling like this and worse whilst being away from their family and loved ones.
Let’s hope we can start to see an improvement in the lack of support students are getting from their university tutors as well as having more accessible mental health services. In the midst of a global pandemic, we are all doing the best we can to stay positive and motivated, however, understandably it is much harder for some than others and we all need to remember this.