Managing Mental Health During College Post Pandemic

Published 1:22 pm Wednesday, August 18, 2021

By Michael Leach

During the pandemic, many students chose to take time off and avoid remote learning. The COVID-19 pandemic was incredibly challenging for college students. When schools shut down, many students decided not to keep going and take time off. In 2021, higher education enrollment fell to new lows, and spring enrollment fell to 16.9 million, a decline of 3.5%.

According to the American Council on Education, eight out of ten college and university presidents indicated that student mental health had become more of a priority on their campuses than it was three years ago. Poor mental health does often lead to substance abuse. Many students report a lack of regular and compassionate communication from their institution as COVID has become a primary stressor. It is vital for returning students to have support during the new school year, as everything regarding the pandemic has proven to be unpredictable.

According to a 2020 study investigating the mental health of college students during COVID, 48% of respondents showed a moderate to severe level of depression, and 38% showed a moderate to severe level of anxiety. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol become unhealthy coping strategies to manage stress and mental health problems. Most of the participants in the research indicated that their stress and anxiety levels had increased during the pandemic.

The upcoming school year will be about practicing self-care. In addition, it will be about finding ways for college students to maintain good mental health while keeping campuses physically safe. Many colleges across the country have implemented self-care days to provide a break for students. Colleges are also focusing more on drug and alcohol use prevention, focusing on binge drinking and recreational drug use.

Practicing self-care post-pandemic at college involves establishing a daily routine and sticking to it. When stressed, it is easy to fall out of routines and stay isolated. Students should also try to form new and healthy habits and refrain from binge drinking and drug use. It is vital to remain social and keep in touch with family and friends. Finally, reach out to friends or professionals for help if needed.

Michael Leach has spent most of his career as a health care professional specializing in Substance Use Disorder and addiction recovery. He is a regular contributor to the healthcare website Addicted.org and a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant