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Insight into The Developing Mental Health of Students 
Covid-19 Edition 

In March of 2020 the United States found themselves hurling into a pandemic, that would change our lives. The introduction of Covid-19 shot fear and hysteria through the population as many were terrified what this infectious disease truly meant. Within moments of hearing of the lockdown, large groups of people panicked and grabbed... toilet paper?

Who knows why the vitamins and cold supplies were stocked full, but toilet paper seemed like a necessity. It all falls down to the psychology of what fear and confusion due to the human mind.

A large group that was strongly affected, with their lives upended, were many students. 

Image by Brian McGowan
Image by Adam Nieścioruk
Image by Adam Nieścioruk
Image by Adam Nieścioruk
Image by Adam Nieścioruk

Covid Cases Dwindle, but the Mental Health Effects aren't Ready to Leave Just Yet.

            A detrimental outcome from the Corona Virus is the impact it had on people's mental health. As we move back to reopening, “We see the light at the end of the tunnel, for the pandemic, however it seems the mental health effects may  not be wavering,” Rep. Anthony Gonzalez noted in his press briefing in October of 2021.

Joe Whalen, a  Junior at Siena College, explained his experience with the transition back to normalcy after the pandemic. Mr. Whalen  explained how he had “Never really felt isolated or anxious like this before. And then when the pandemic hit it really messed up a lot of people our age up, and I don't think we've ever really recovered from that.” Mr. Whalen said. Although there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, the mental toll of Covid-19 has held onto its victims. In efforts of how to proceed Whalen explained “There is a need for all psychiatrists and therapists. People need an outlet. We can't just go back to normal, we need help transitioning.”

          Studies find Mr. Whalen  is not alone in his fears. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, a Rocky River Republican, is introducing a bill that he hopes will take effect in 2022. He began looking into this about two months ago after the tragic story of a Covid-19 case ended in suicide, Bysen Gray. Gonzalez explained in the press briefing that  “The Brycen Gray and Ben Price COVID-19 Neurological Impact Act” would authorize the National Science Foundation, in consultation with the National Institutes of Health, to award grants to support research on neurological and psychiatric illnesses associated with COVID-19 infection”.

Brysen Gray, 17, from Cleveland Ohio, was noted for his comedy and popularity in school. However, two months ago the teenager took his own life, mainly due to the stress from the pandemic. Gray's mother said, in an interview with WKYC News, that “He exhibited neurological problems associated with Covid-19 before taking his own life.” She added that not enough attention is being brought to mental health related to the pandemic. The CDC noted that suicide attempts increased 31 percent in adolescent's during the pandemic.

         When 25 Albany students were surveyed on their opinion of this new bill 22 said they would be in favor, and three said they would need more information. With many students explaining why they believe this would benefit people, especially kids their age, it's clear to see the evolving problem of mental health in regard to Covid.

Katelyn Reids, a student at the University explained how her anxiety and mental health shifted throughout the pandemic status. In the early stages of the pandemic “I felt alone and unproductive. Sitting at home all day felt like I wasn't doing anything. Even though I was struggling at self teaching college courses.” She continued to note that during the pandemic her anxiety was “at an all-time high.”

         The collision of Covid-19 and the average daily life upturned multitudes of people's routine. This upturn affected almost every aspect of their social construct and led to quite the increase in mental health crisis and mental illnesses globally. The initial lockdown from the Covid pandemic had its original stressors for the population, but the shift back to reopening came with their own as well.  

         Joseph Alvarez, a senior at the University at Albany, has studied through life pre pandemic, current pandemic, and back to transitional times. Mr. Alvarez described this experience as a “Very stressful time because I had to solely rely on myself for learning.” The effects of Covid-19 made the original stress of college multiply. Alvarez added, “Now all of a sudden were supposed to go back to learning like normal? We were just getting used to online learning and now we're back in person. These constant changes can be really frustrating!”

         The stress caused by the pandemic can sometimes result in serious consequences, such as drug abuse . A random survey by the CDC in June of 2020, concluded that“ 31% of respondents reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, 13% reported having started or increased substance use, 26% reported stress-related symptoms, and 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days”. This effect of covid-19 is affecting numbers of people in your very own community, and these numbers are not decreasing at a noticeable rate.

   

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

    Selam Nur, a New York City resident, saw his bustling city shut down and go quiet. He explained at first, it wasn't terrible “But three months in, it just started to feel lonely”, the city he called home had completely changed. From small towns to big cities, mental health has hit hard in the homes of many. We have seen a direct correlation [PCS14] with new diagnosis rising in terms of the Covid pandemic. The CDC also notes that the pandemic created a harder environment with new barriers for people previously suffering from mental illness. 

        

                Madison Geisler was just starting her freshman year of  highschool, and always knew she had underlying mental illnesses but it wasn't until school went virtual that she had to visit a doctor because of it. “When school went online I realized I really couldn't focus. That's when I went to the doctor and they recommended that I be put on ADHD medications.” Madison explained. The Covid Pandemic exuberated underlying illnesses she had struggled with, but never seemed to be such a barrier as it is now.

        The mental health effects of Covid-19, has affected everyone from college students, to people living in a city that have lost their normalcy, it seems no one was safe. What may be the hardest part is “that we don't even know when or how it’ll go back to normal,” or really when people will ever feel normal again, Alvarez said, with a sigh.

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This graph shows he number of calls made to the mental health line. You can see the dramatic increase in March 2020

Image by Yoav Aziz
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