—By Kim Corner
With all of this year’s tumult, students may be experiencing grief over how COVID-19 has changed their campus routines, academic pursuits and their ability to engage in meaningful social interactions. NWU’s leap to a purely remote format for the fall semester’s final exams might be another source of stress. As students return home to finish the semester remotely and begin their winter break, it’s important for families to check in on their students’ well-being.
Active Minds, a nonprofit mental health organization, recently surveyed thousands of college students to get a sense of their mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 1 in 4 students said their depression had “significantly increased” since the start of the pandemic.
- 89% said they’re experiencing stress or anxiety.
- 56% said their daily activity had decreased or significantly decreased.
Try these conversation starters to talk to your student about mental health:
- Ask how they are doing: “There’s been a lot going on this year. How are you feeling right now?”
- Describe what you are observing: “You’ve been spending a lot of time alone in your room. Are you struggling?”
- Ask specifically about their transition home from campus: “I know it can be hard to adjust to living at home when you’ve been on campus all semester. How are you feeling about that?”
After initiating the conversation, listen. Be ready for an honest conversation. Let your student know that you will support them through this transition. Invite them to reach out to you as needed. And check back in with your student regularly. This shows that you care!
Here’s a great resource through the National Alliance on Mental Illness that can help.
—Kim Corner is NWU’s director of counseling services.