Start of semester brings mental health concerns

Fear prevents students from seeking help amid pandemic

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Evergreen reporter

Students are returning from winter break this year with more mental health issues than normal because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Aurora Brinkman, clinical psychology graduate student, said she has seen an increase in depression and anxiety in students since the pandemic started.

There has been an obvious impact on students’ mental health with the pandemic, political unrest and the increase in publicity of racism and other forms of oppression, Brinkman said. 

“I absolutely have seen an impact on students’ mental health, and just like the mental health of the world in general, and hopefully these are going to be a once in a lifetime events,” Brinkman said.

Brinkman has seen a lot of hopelessness from people, trouble concentrating and concern for the safety of their family, she said.

It is important for professors to inform students that they are not alone. Professors should also be understanding of a student’s circumstance, she said. 

“I think one of the best ways to do that is just kind of from the beginning,” she said. “[By] showing this message that they are open to being flexible to the extent that their class would allow.” 

One of the biggest factors that prevents students from seeking help is the fear that they are the only ones who are struggling, Brinkman said. 

“I think right now almost everyone is struggling and reaching out,” she said. “Either through social media, video conferencing or FaceTime.”

Seeking out a “normal” social connection can help students feel supported and seen, she said.

“It is understandable to be struggling with everything that is happening right now and it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help,” she said. 

According to the Cougar Health Services website, students are not alone when they are feeling anxious. WSU students can utilize the personalized stress management techniques available to them on mobile devices. They can message @stress to (844) 486-0046 to receive these techniques and check-ins with CHS. 

CHS will be hosting “Real Talk Thursdays” periodically over the semester. These events will be available to all WSU students over Zoom. 

The first “Real Talk Thursday” is scheduled 3:30-4 p.m. on Jan. 28 and will be held virtually.