Staying Sane in the New Normal: Covid-19 and Student Mental Health

The outbreak of Covid-19 has presented many challenges, with student mental health being one of the trickiest. Isolation and staring into computer screens can be draining, if not depressing. How are Queens students adapting, and how can they keep their minds fresh and productive in such an awkward learning environment?

Some people have found themselves thriving in this new environment.

“I’ve never felt better,” said Ben Osborne, a senior Business Administration major from Charlotte. “I am an introvert and love isolation.”

Though Osborne’s outlook may be more of an exception to the rule, it still sheds light on the possibility of silver linings for a deadly global pandemic that so many people have negative feelings towards.

Other students polled said that they have found it hard to adjust to such a different lifestyle and have felt negative effects of their new online learning experience. Most students said that online learning means fewer social connections, more time in front of a computer and disjointed schedules, all of which are difficult to manage even without a global pandemic. Throw school work on top, and things get very stressful for college students.

Of the students interviewed, most said that they had thought about getting counseling, but none have done so yet. This disconnect is reflected in the fact that according to Kate Regan, Director of Health and Wellness at Queens, there has not been an increase in students requesting counseling.

“Students have been home,” she said. “They have resources there that they have been able to utilize rather than the Health and Wellness Center.” She said students often turn to families and friends at home when they need someone to talk to.

Regan also said that there has not been much of a change in the issues students have requested counseling for, namely depression, stress and anxiety.

Perhaps taking a different approach to the Covid-19 situation is necessary for students to stay mentally fit, given that their lives are so different now they were just eight months ago. While the virus has presented a difficult lifestyle for students to adjust to, they have been creative in finding ways to make it more manageable.

“I’ve been focusing on making music and learning to cook,” said Christian Parral, a junior Communications major at Queens from Elkin, NC. “Well, it’s really just learning new ways to make chicken wings.”

Becca Bailey, a junior psychology major from Concord, NC, said that one of her “not so cheap” coping mechanisms is to get up early to take her dog for a walk and then stop to get Starbucks (for her dog too, of course) afterward. Other students, like Brendan West, a junior Sports Management major from Calvert County, MD, enjoy simple things like creating a schedule to follow and going to the gym to stay mentally sharp for class, work and maintaining relationships.

Though Queens plans to have its students back on campus in the upcoming spring semester, Health and Wellness plan to keep its online structure until it is safe for everyone to have in-person counseling sessions again. Until then, they have provided a list for students to stay mentally healthy until the Queens Community is fully reunited:

  • Try and create a structured routine to follow each day
  • Try and go outside for at least 30 minutes every day. Change in scenery is important and is a good change from looking at a screen all day.
  • Connect and interact with others in a safe and appropriate way.
  • Practice something you are good at every single day. Doing so will remind you of your strengths.

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Published by students of Queens University of Charlotte, 1900 Selwyn Avenue, Charlotte, N.C. 28274.