By Shanelly Lopez
The COVID 19 pandemic, a global virus that has killed more than two hundred thousand people around the world, is the greatest misfortune of 2020. One of the most important reasons it is characterized this way is due to its impact on mental health, especially that of young people, including college students. Since the beginning of the pandemic when people began to practice social distancing, many people stopped seeking psychological help. Others may believe that mental health does not have much importance, but in actuality the mental health of a person determines their future since, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) an agency responsible for international public health, “depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.”
“Quarantine and self-isolation can most likely harm one’s mental health,” state researchers Bilal Javed, Abdullah Savier, Erik B. Soto, and Zia-ur-Rehman Ashwani in their article “The Coronavirus (COVID 19) Pandemic’s Impact On Mental Health” published by The International Journal Of Health Planning and Management.
This is in part because when people find themselves in social confinement, they lose their habits. As a result, people will go through an exhausting and traumatic period of re-adapting to society and re-creating a day-to-day routine. Most people had their lives under control because they knew what to expect from each day, however this time in which COVID mainly rules, there are always variables like a new outbreak that could re-start everything over and over again. For students, understanding mental health is essential. Being able to keep a positive mindset is really needed and the way to obtain that is by seeking for psychological support. Unless each student is prepared to make the most out of a situation or understands the responsibility of being immunocompromised while going back to school things are not looking great for the future of colleges.
Some groups are more mentally affected in response to COVID. Studies have found that women are almost twice as likely as men to develop mental illness. “Characteristics such as female gender, student status, specific physical symptoms are significantly associated with the greater psychological impact of the outbreak and higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression,” states Nanditi Chakraborty MD, FRCP, in an article titled “The COVID 19 Pandemic and Its Impact On Mental Health”published by the journal Progress in Neurology and Psychiatry. The World Health Organization states in their article “Gender and Women’s Health”, that “depressive disorders account for close 41.9% of the disability from neuropsychiatric disorders among women compared to 29.3% among men”.
In addition to the stress and anxiety caused by this global pandemic, many students and young people around the world are experiencing eating disorders. “Over a quarter of college students(28.4%) perceived themselves as having gained weight since the onset of the pandemic,” according to a survey from “The Quarantine 15:’ Perceived versus Observed Weight Changes in College Students in the Wake of COVID ‐19”published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders. “These perceptions replicate findings from other retrospective studies of perceived weight change following COVID 19.” The results of this survey could be related to binge eating disorder, which causes people to overeat or to the decrease physical activity that students were in during the pandemic or to depression. Depression affects people in many ways, but is characterized by causing a feeling of “emptiness” and many try to fill this “emptiness” with food. Being overweight can have short and long-term consequences, which is why it is essential that young people receive nutrition counseling to regulate this problem and that it does not turn into another pandemic.
Queensborough Community College has taken action in terms of providing mental support to students. The Queensborough Counseling Center has a call center open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (718-631-6370) which offers all students a great basis for mental and emotional support. Students calling during nighttime, weekends or any other times in which the office is closed, are offered other resources, for example, , they are encouraged to call NYC Well or the National Suicide Prevention Line. Any information given stays confidential.
Many professionals have mental illnesses they don’t even know about and sometimes these develop over time until they get to a point where these mental illnesses are near impossible to manage. Mental illnesses are mainly a result of traumatic events that occur during a person’s childhood but that doesn’t mean that when a person is grown they are untouchable by the monster of mental health illnesses. Traumatic events such as a pandemic can lead to irreversible effects on a person’s mental capacity. Humans are nearly never fully prepared to adapt to drastic changes. We’re so used to being in control of every situation that leads our everyday lives but from one day to another many unexpected things can happen. This is why it’s important to keep a calm mind and feet on the ground. The way of maintaining this mental balance is by seeking help when needed.