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Student Mental Health Is On The Decline

Man stressed, sits in front of computer with head in hands

By Destiny Meilleur

The uncertainty of the job market with the regular stresses of school has caused an increase in students reaching out for mental health support.

Joshua Gwozdz, a NAIT student, says that he has struggled with his mental health since classes have been moved online.

“All of my semesters were a little bit stressful because the pandemic kind of hit its full height during the start of my first semester. It kind of threw a wrench into a lot of people’s plans and into our education. It made it more difficult for us to be where we needed to be. And it made it difficult to get the training that we know is going to be essential to our careers later on. That was certainly a big cause of stress,” said Gwozdz.

Student Mental Health Infographic
Infographic by Destiny Meilleur

Students like Gwozdz have pointed out how isolating online classes can be and how taxing that can be to students. However he feels that students and teachers gave their best effort and tried to make it as easy on students as they could.

“A big part of going to school was seeing my classmates and, you know, joking around and having fun in class and just even in between breaks and stuff. Not being able to be face to face with my classmates did take a toll on my mental health. But, I guess the next best thing was meetings online through services like zoom, or teams or whatever platform you’re using, you still get to see them, but it’s not really the same as being there in person,” said Gwozdz.

Alycia Chung a Psychologist at NAIT says that she’s noticed most students are just wanting to finish their program no matter how it is delivered.

“I think that the majority of students are kind of dedicated to kind of getting through, regardless, but I won’t lie. There are quite a few students that are saying ‘is this the right time for me?’ … There’s some individuals that really feel like the overall stress is so much that if I delay it a little bit, then maybe I’ll have more resources to deal with it at that time,” said Chung.

Chung said that the NAIT counselling services have been busier than normal with students trying to cope with all the new changes.

“Individuals that maybe had their pre-existing issues, this is only adding to it. And of course, there are some individuals that were perfectly functioning before and all of a sudden this is uncharted territory. So it does seem like we have kind of a new focus. … [Some] people that maybe hadn’t thought that they needed to access counselling before are starting to reach out,” said Chung.

If someone is struggling with their mental health, Chung has suggested some tips for how to best handle online school.

  • Set a schedule – even if not everything is scheduled, wake up at relatively the same time, set an amount of time to get work done and go to bed at around the same time everyday.
  • Talk to the instructors if the class feels overwhelming.
  • Give self rewards when a task is completed.
  • Write to-do lists.
  • Get up and get ready even if staying home.
  • Be self-compassionate.
  • Remember to reach out to friends and family.
  • Create a space that is dedicated only for school/work.
  • Get exercise.
  • Actively participate in class, speak up and keep the webcam on.

Try to get assignments done when they’re handed out instead of leaving it to the last minute.

Online classes have been challenging not only in adapting but also for students’ mental health. Classes are still online for many schools, so remember to reach out to your school’s student support services, or friends and family.

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