Have you ever felt that you couldn’t finish a task — on time or at all — or even be willing to engage in your favorite hobby since the coronavirus pandemic started? This is clearly an unusual situation that foments many challenges and has been turning our daily lives upside down in ways we are not used to.
Life as we know it has shifted as businesses stopped, schools closed indefinitely and many students were encouraged to stay at home as a control measure to slow the disease’s spread.
On one hand, these measures were implemented to flatten the curve of one illness, but on the other hand, they also supplied conditions for the incubation of additional complications. Around 284 million people worldwide had an anxiety disorder in 2017, and depression affected 264 million people.
I believe that students represent one of the most affected groups by these atypical circumstances, as we try to cope with all these changes, be productive with school workloads and maintain our social life as we try to unravel the wires of adulthood.
The pandemic state caused by the coronavirus has and will continue to have negative effects not only on student’s mental health but also on their efficiency in doing important undertakings.
Being away from family, trying to adapt to college life and promptly respond to curriculum pressures is a lot to absorb. And that can make us vulnerable to depression and anxiety. As an international student, I had been longing to go home during the summer break to visit my family and eat xima com Kakana — my favorite Mozambican dish. All these plans came crumbling down with the pandemic.
An estimated 7.1% of all U.S. adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2017. Many of those adults were between 18 and 25 years old. Moreover, in 2012, 41.6% and 36.4% of American college students were affected by anxiety and depressionrespectively. With all the sudden changes catalyzed by the pandemic, it is likely that students will faceincreased rates of anxiety and depression.
The more the pandemic develops, the easier it is to feel hopeless. We are overwhelmed by a state of awe as we bear witness to unprecedented global remodeling that can lead to decreased ability to concentrate and function, resulting in missed deadlines or submission of mediocre assignments.
Now, during the summer break, we have more unattended time circumscribed by the lack of outdoor activities and social interactions, combined with ingrained habits of sleep deprivation and poor eating schedules. I personally fail miserably every time I assemble all my forces to stop me from going to the kitchen to eat snacks for the nth time in the middle of the night while binge-watching episodes of Insecure. All these bad habits can be aggravated by a loss of interest in activities that were once used to decompress from the academic pressure and boost our self-confidence.
Being at home with family can abruptly bring additional responsibilities such as taking care of other family elements while trying to think of next steps, whether that is finding a summer job, being employed after graduation or even just considering what resuming classes will look like in the future.
So it’s completely plausible if your answer to my question was something along the lines “Yes, I am constantly worried and have been struggling to operate basic human functions!” Everything we do currently is submerged in primitive uncertainty related to how and when we are going to go back to the way things were. I believe each one of us is reacting to this poignant state to the best of our abilities.
Many students will struggle through different lenses to endure and adapt to the challenges promoted by the coronavirus. The time each one of us will need to adjust to said changes remains uncertain. What is certain is that coping mechanisms are desperately needed, whether that means focusing on planning and organizing the next steps, seeking mental health care, trying to maintain a steady schedule or simply taking a walk outside and talking to the closest friend.
Kleidy Camela is a master’s student in natural resources sciences. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.