Xenia Gonikberg is a sophomore journalism major.
While the pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives in many ways, students have arguably gone through the most changes during this time. Online schooling has led to a substantial increase in anxiety among students as they navigate the challenges of remote learning along with other personal or family problems. Many students feel like the shift to remote learning was more of a hindrance than a blessing as it disrupted the quality of education. Other students have a lack of motivation or desire to do any work since many classes are not in person.
Most importantly, many students suffer from an increasing number of mental health issues because they don’t have access to the same counseling resources as before. It is important that these issues are addressed and that students are made aware of what mental health resources are available to them during this critical time.
Some of the main fears that students are facing regarding online learning and the current state of the world revolve around personal and financial situations. These include worries about job security, toxic family lives and feelings of isolation from not interacting with people. The drastic shift from being social and communicating with others to not being able to leave the house is incredibly jarring. Not being able to spend time with friends can give rise to intrusive thoughts, leading to anxiety and in extreme cases, depressive episodes or suicidal thoughts.
With heightened levels of anxiety, many students like myself have had trouble focusing on school. It is difficult for me to pay attention in class and I tend to go on my phone during lectures. I also do not enjoy classes as much as I used to since I am not having the in-person experience that I had before. I gain the most out of my education when I am able to have in-class discussions with my professors and peers, so with most classes online, it is harder for me to contribute by posting on discussion boards the same way I would contribute by speaking in class.
Many students believe that remote learning is not giving them the same quality of education as in-person classes. Oftentimes, students find it difficult to focus because they have access to technology without somebody monitoring them. Some students also do not have access to a reliable internet connection, which makes online school even more difficult. These unforeseen problems have made adjusting to online learning that much more difficult.
Remote learning has negatively impacted students in more ways than one. A disruption in students’ academic routines that once gave them comfort is threatening to their mental health. According to a study done in California schools, 32% of students need more mental health resources as a result of the pandemic.
The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for students who now have to seek new methods of coping with the pressures of a different learning environment amidst a global health crisis. Many researchers agree that the pandemic could have long term impacts on students moving forward, especially those who struggle with school. These impacts include students falling behind or even getting held back as a result of the lack of hands-on education.
A lot of students like myself have felt the negative effects of online school. Spending the whole day online on Zoom or doing schoolwork can take a huge toll on mental health, so it is important to communicate with professors to be more aware of class expectations.
I find that when I make a to-do list and try to be as organized as possible, it significantly alleviates my stress. I create a list of the tasks I have to do for the week so that I can stay on top of my work, given how easy it is to get distracted and miss deadlines with remote learning. When I feel myself experiencing symptoms of anxiety about doing schoolwork, I try to take a break from my computer and do something that I enjoy, like listening to music or spending time with friends while social distancing. Both of these things help me manage my anxiety and stay focused.
On top of creating an organized schedule and prioritizing the activities that are stress-relieving, it is important to not forget the tools available in online psychological services. Many therapists and mental health nonprofits have moved their resources online, and some organizations, like the Trevor Project for the LGBTQ+ community, have hotlines to call that are open for 24 hours.
For Stony Brook students, online appointments can be made for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), where students can speak to trained professionals over the phone or on Zoom. While the popular PALS program has shifted online, videos of adorable service dogs and cats are available on the website.
Many students are struggling with increased anxiety during this tumultuous time, but schools like Stony Brook are trying to adapt to these changes through online resources designed to help students. Anxiety is a constant battle that many people face daily, and this pandemic has only exacerbated pre-existing mental health struggles. Students are having to navigate a stressful time while managing their own wellbeing, which means that support from those around them is needed now more than ever.