This piece was submitted by Science Writing for Public Student Jason Lowenstein
In 2020, the world was overrun by a virus called SARS-CoV-2, known as COVID-19. It forced school systems to go to remote learning and isolated a lot of people. Those who moved to Fisher campus, had to navigate around a lot of COVID-19 protocols that already added to the stress of transitioning to school.
With social distancing, face masks, and not having a roommate, students — like myself — were isolated in their dorm rooms. I would go to class, go to my room, get food, go to my room. This led to me feeling confined to my room with no one else. I started not being able to sleep and had anxiety attacks every night because I was alone with no one to do anything with. I decided to move back home for that year and be a commuter. I realized I couldn’t be the only one so I started to wonder how covid has affected the mental health of students.
Mental health as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is “our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act.” With this definition we can determine that mental health has a big impact on how someone acts and approaches different situations.
“College is the first time for people to be themselves and meet new people from different areas, religions, and cultures. With COVID and the protocols that were put in place students had a very hard time socializing which is a big portion of the college experience,” Dr. Richard Friedman is a psychologist in the Rochester area and works with several students from Fisher. Dr. Friedman said the long-term effects this can have on students is also immense.
Rebecca Kieffer, the director of the Health and Wellness Center at Fisher believes that there could be another pandemic after the pandemic which would be about mental health. This is because no one knows yet how the pandemic has affected people’s minds. The only thing that we know for certain is that there was a negative impact.
In the Fall of 2020 students at Fisher were sent home halfway through the semester due to rising COVID-19 cases. At this time, the college did a Healthy Minds Study, which is a yearly national study that examines the mental health of undergraduate and graduate students.
According to the report, 74% of respondents indicated being worried about the mental health or well-being of a close friend or family member half the time or more. “Overall, 86% of respondents indicate being worried about academic progress half the time or more.”
The study was given again in May of 2021 and 73% of the respondents were worried about mental health half the time or more.
- 60% of students indicate being concerned half the time or more of a close friend or family.
- 80% of students indicate being concerned half of the time or more about their academic progress.
Even though the numbers are improving there is still a high percentage of students that are concerned about their mental health, school, friends and/or family. With the increase in loneliness, Fisher must implement ways for students to be able to relieve the stress of college as well as making it easier for students to meet and connect with others.