Council for Relationships Featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer: College Students Experience Mental Health Decline From COVID-19 Effects, Survey Finds. Here’s How to Get Help.
May 14, 2020 | On Saturday, Brendan McNally will sit on the couch in his family’s living room, dressed in his cap and gown, and watch a slide with his picture and name go by on his computer screen during St. Joseph’s University’s online graduation ceremony — a far cry from the senior’s expectations before COVID-19 derailed everything.
“I thought I would get to close out senior year with my two best friends after our extended spring break,” said McNally, who is now quarantining with his family in Bethlehem, Pa. “And then things just got worse and worse, and I realized that we weren’t going to reopen. Everyone’s mental health was all over the place. It was like, ‘I put in all this effort, this is the reward we’re getting?’”
McNally is one of at least 14 million college students affected by the pandemic, according to an estimate by a Georgetown professor. In the Philadelphia area, students were asked to move out of their campus residences and take courses online on short notice. Many of them now owe rent for their empty off-campus apartments and worry about their job prospects as officials expect unemployment rates to reach 20%.
The mental health impact of the pandemic has been significant, said Laura Horne, chief program officer at Active Minds Inc., a national nonprofit supporting mental health awareness and education for students. In a survey by the organization, 80% of the 2,086 respondents said the pandemic negatively affected their mental health, and one in five students said “their mental health has significantly worsened under COVID-19.”
Even more concerning: over half of students surveyed said they don’t know where to go if they need help, Horne said.