How COVID-19 is impacting college students' mental health

Posted at 10:30 AM, Oct 20, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It’s been a strange time everywhere, with COVID-19 upending how people normally live.

That includes college students, many of whom are now in a hybrid form of learning, with some on campus and some on a computer at home, like Gregory Carnesi.

“Something that I've been experiencing myself, something that I've heard my peers experiencing, is just this feeling of being overwhelmed because everything is online now,” Carnesi said.

Carnesi goes to Arizona State University, just one of the campuses in the U.S. where the nonprofit and mental health organization “Active Minds” recently surveyed several thousand college students, to see how they are faring in the time of COVID-19.

Here’s what they found:

- 1 in 4 students said their depression had “significantly increased” since the start of the pandemic
- 89% of the students surveyed said they’re experiencing stress or anxiety
- 56% said their daily activity had decreased or significantly decreased.

“We have to remind people, ‘you know, you used to walk three miles a day to and from class, or you used to be out on the field running around for soccer practice and you're not doing that right now.’ So how else can you fill that gap and that void for yourself?” said Alison Malmon, founder and executive director of Active Minds.

Malmon said it’s also important for colleges and universities to tailor student access to mental health services, since so many are no longer on campus as much.

“We are still needing to promote access and we are still needing to give people the supports that they need in the way that they are able to reach them,” Malmon said.

Yet, there were some positive findings in the survey.

- Nearly two-thirds of students, 66%, said they have been helping support others with their mental health
- 77% of those surveyed said they feel optimistic about the future

Gregory Carnesi said he is just taking it one day at a time.

“I really kind of think the best thing that's worked for me is just having grace and mercy with myself,” he said, “and just doing your best day to day. Even if that best is just getting out of bed and like making yourself breakfast, just like these basic things, that's enough.”

If you are in need of mental health resources during the pandemic, click here.