Pandemic presents obstacles with mental health

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Daria Milovanova staff writer

The global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted various aspects of everyone’s life, including mental health. Having to stay inside all day long and experiencing a lack of social interaction, students have reported to NormanAid Wellness Center that they are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. However, there are multiple measures students can take in order to combat such anxious feelings and ultimately boost one’s mental stability.

Senior Nick Kay, a peer counselor at NormanAid Wellness Center, says that the pandemic “impacts students a great deal.” 

“There are some…mental health things that we’ve never had to deal with…and having to be home all the time, we’ve had to start dealing with emotions and feelings we’ve never had to before, which is…scary. It brings your mood down,” she said. 

A study conducted by the Youth Liberty Squad and ACLU of Southern California reports that less than 40 percent of surveyed California students evaluate their mental health to be at the same level as before the pandemic. Students frequently used the word “lonely” to describe their mental health. Social interactions encourage feelings of support, belonging and security, which are all vital to mental and social health. Without them, people may feel more anxious and less stable.

Alison Norman-Franks, NormanAid Wellness Center wellness counselor, highlighted the changes that have occurred as a result of the pandemic, and their subsequent impact on students’ mental health

“Being outside, spending time with people that make you feel good, joining sports, doing clubs, all of those have changed in different ways,” she said. “You can still be in a sports team, you could still be in a club, but there’s been an adjustment. So it does make it hard to do the things that normally make people feel good and boost their mental health.”

Although the pandemic limited the activities that help people stay mentally healthy, there are a few simple actions anyone can take in order to improve their mental health. Norman-Franks and Kay advise students to incorporate the following activities into their daily routine: 

  • Taking advantage of available resources
  • Journaling
  • Talking about your feelings
  • Staying physically active
  • Writing down three things you are grateful for
  • Checking in on your friends

If students are feeling anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, NormanAid has many resources for anyone struggling with mental health to get support. NormanAid offers counseling, but even something as simple as browsing through the center’s catalog can be an important step to seeking out support and improving mental health.

“Counseling can be really helpful because it’s a neutral person and it’s somebody who’s trained to be able to help manage those feelings and work through those feelings,” Norman-Franks said. “Counseling is extremely beneficial and it doesn’t have to be long term. Sometimes just a few sessions can make a big difference.” 

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