College Student Mental Health Impacted by COVID-19, According to Active Minds’ April 2020 Survey

College Student Mental Health Impacted by COVID-19, According to Active Minds’ April 2020 Survey

Rory Kelly
Editorial Contributor

From April 10-18, Active Minds surveyed over 3,000 high school and college students regarding their mental health and COVID-19 experiences. The researchers disaggregated the data by education level and produced an infographic describing college-specific insights drawn from the responses of over 2,000 college students.

One in five college students reported a significant worsening in their mental health since the pandemic impacted the U.S., whereas 80% of college students responded that COVID-19 has negatively affected their mental health. The most common impacts of COVID-19 felt by students in mid-April included stress or anxiety (91%), disappointment or sadness (81%), loneliness or isolation (80%), relocation (56%), and financial setback (48%). Amidst the increased stressors and changes, 55% of college students reported not knowing where to go to receive professional mental health support right away. This is a significant increase from what was reported by students in the 2018-2019 Healthy Minds Survey when 25% of students reported not knowing where to get help on campus.

As COVID-19 closed campuses and upended students’ routines, plans, and campus support networks, many campus leaders and wellbeing administrators encouraged students to engage in self-care behaviors. They gave this advice as students were struggling to maintain a routine (76%) and to get enough physical activity (73%). 63% of respondents reported struggling to stay connected with others. Yet, 79% of respondents still felt hopeful about achieving school-related goals and future job prospects.

The campus closures caused many students to return home or find housing at short notice as faculty and staff worked to quickly translate course material and syllabi into a remote format. 85% of students reported difficulty concentrating on schoolwork and classes, perhaps distracted by the constant coronavirus news cycle, sharing working space, or tuning out increased noise or other distractions in addition to rigorous coursework.

Based on the survey results, Active Minds recommended a number of areas of focus for institutions of higher education, including: providing increased academic support, offering more mental health resources, focusing on soft skills, fostering more opportunities for social connection, and engaging in long-term planning. Students are asking for colleges to help adapt the remote experience by fostering the human element of higher education by connecting with others in and out of the classroom, in addition to investment in support services and preparing for semesters to come.

At Christie Campus Health, we had already been providing students access to remote behavioral services. Since the start of the pandemic, we have been assisting new partner schools in their transition to remote student support, with a focus on improving student access to support services both during the pandemic and after. In addition to the 24/7 clinical support line, online self-guided cognitive behavioral training, community treatment options, and telehealth, we have provided COVID-19-focused group counseling sessions for students to connect remotely with each other and a clinician. Understanding that institutions’ and students’ situations and access to learning and support changed dramatically, we developed clear communication with our partner institutions inform students that although the campus is closed, we are here for them and continue to provide the full CONNECT@College program.

Student-athlete mental health right now

The high academic demands all students tackle in addition to student-athletes’ athletic demands can overwhelm during times of mental, emotional, physical stress, or other difficulties. Additionally, the disruption caused by COVID 19 which resulted in loss of routine, social connection, goal-oriented practice, and play can also be unsettling, as noted by many graduating and injured student-athletes.

Read More

Christie Campus Health Extends Strong Support to Students

We believe that every student on campuses across America should have the emotional and behavioral support they need to complete their college experience and thrive as healthy young adults, safely and happily.

Read More

COVID-19 and Behavioral Health Equity

College students from less advantaged strata of society are especially vulnerable to the behavioral health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dealing with the sheer scope of these disruptions is a challenge for all college students, but it is an especially daunting challenge for less advantaged students.

Read More