When the global pandemic hit the United States people’s mental health deteriorated, and no one was sure how long it would last. But Wayne State jumped through hoops to open back up and try to give students a normal semester, mental health is not the same.
“COVID has absolutely affected people’s mental health on this campus,” Student Senate President Adam Smith said. “The fact that we bulldoze through the semester has affected a lot of people’s mental health. Going through the semester without a break, sometimes people just need time. Students just need time to reflect. Mental health right now isn’t necessarily good compared to previous semesters, but we are getting there.” Smith said.
According to the website of the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry, it is well studied that college students are especially prone to feelings of loneliness, and they experience higher rates of anxiety and depression compared to the general population. During this period of social isolation, uncertainty, and abrupt transitions, they are prone to further worsening of these feelings. Removal from their social support system and extracurricular activities at their school can cause students to feel less connected with their friends, organizations, and hobbies.
In addition, they are facing uncertainty about their future, their own health, and the health of their friends and loved ones. The situation they are living through is stressful and anxiety provoking, as there is a constant fear of the unknown in addition to a loss of control, making them especially vulnerable to developing mental health concerns, according to the website of the University of Michigan Department of Psychiatry.
“I think that there is a select group of students on campus that do a really good job advocating for mental health,” Smith said. “We have student organizations that are dedicated to that. The Active Minds group does a really great job promoting good messages about mental health.”
WSC also has other mental health groups catering to certain needs, and Smith encourages students to reach out for help.
“We just do not have conversations about it, it is important, and we need to,” Smith said. “It is something we need to bring to the table; it is a conversation that needs to be had. There is a select group of students that do a good job of trying to bring those conversations forward so everyone is comfortable being able to have them.”
The next semester should improve at Wayne State because the college plans on having a normal semester.
“I think you are going to see a better overall outlook on mental health, because we have a long break to take the time to relax and decompress,” Smith said. “Also taking the time to reflect on what is going on in the world right now. There is so much noise and so much going in it is hard to take it all in when you are trying to get through school and get through senior year stuff if you are a senior and freshman year or your first semester if you are a freshman. Trying to navigate it and going forward.”
According to the WSC website, confidential counseling services are available free of charge to all students. Licensed counselors provide treatment for many issues including student adjustment, personal growth, grief, stress management, human sexuality, alcohol and drug related concerns, mental illness, and interpersonal relationships. Counselors are also available after hours by contacting campus security.
Counselors are available to provide education regarding mental health and healthy living to individuals, classes, and student groups. The counseling staff provide multiple outreach programs throughout the year, including suicide prevention, mental health first aid, healthy relationships programs, and alcohol awareness activities.
“From looking at the number of intakes it appears we have seen approximately 200 students,” Licensed Student Counselor Jayne Halsey said. “We had a gratitude event in the Student Center atrium on Nov. 9th and planning something for stress relief during study week.”
All students and faculty can monitor their mental health and seeking help from the resources we have here at WSC.