The idea of mental health has long been placed on the backburner of our current society, often ignored in favor of illnesses that can be seen. The idea of an unseen illness can be too easily brushed off by those that go unaffected.
However, with the emergence of self-isolation in the age of COVID-19, mental health has become a pressing problem for people all over the world. While the circumstances of disease prevention have become stricter as the pandemic progresses, all of humanity has found itself quickly adapting to change.
While this might prove easy for some people, few could be prepared for the months spent in quarantine while the world as we knew it fell apart. With little to no warning, COVID-19 took over our daily lives and disrupted our plans—the aftereffects of which can still be felt around the world.
As college students, we know all too well the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when considering the lives we gave up earlier this year when we were forced home in the middle of the semester. Despite the fact that students have been allowed back on campus, things are still not back to normal, thus causing added stress.
“I feel like being back has only made [my mental health] worse,” said Abigail Zerbe (’23). “It sucks that now I’m so near my friends, but I can’t actually spend any quality time with them.”
The newest issue within our campus community is keeping each other safe. While mandatory health screenings have become a part of our everyday lives, wearing masks and social distancing have become the new norm in classes, meetings and events. These measures, however, have caused debate among students, faculty and staff alike; whether or not they’re necessary has suddenly become a hot topic.
“Keeping people healthy and safe has become politicized,” said Natalie Walsh (’22). “It’s scientifically proven that social distancing and wearing a mask can save lives. A lot of people tend to think this is false and will only wear a mask if it’s being required by law but will complain the entire time. A lot of people that associate with the Republican party think COVID-19 is a hoax and refuse to wear a mask or will wear it incorrectly. I would like to add that not everyone who is Republican believes that, but I’ve gotten into arguments about whether or not we should wear masks, when it’s a health issue, not a political one.”
While many people struggled with the idea of self-isolation during quarantine, others used the time for some much-needed R&R, taking time to check out new recipes, work on crafts or binge the newest Netflix series.
“I’m an extreme introvert. I really have to plan out my people time accordingly because there will be a point that I hit a wall and need to go into hiding,” said Nicole Yost (’21). “I was given so much alone time for schoolwork that I really had the chance to improve my mental state. After school was over, I was able to do nothing with no other commitments that I needed to give my time to, which really helped me recharge. It really helped me feel the best I have since freshman year.”
When faced with something that cannot be changed, it’s often best to take it in stride and look at the positives. This could be, for example, taking time to relax after a stressful semester at school, or using quarantine to learn a new hobby or read a book you’ve been putting off to the side. While a global pandemic is stressful for a variety of somewhat obvious reasons, it’s important to remember the good. A global pandemic won’t go away on its own, but it can be slowed down by students remembering to follow safety precautions.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to lean on friends and family for support (while still adhering to social distancing regulations). With a combined effort, the spread of COVID-19 can be slowed and life can return to normal.