Mental health issues are the leading hindrance to academic success. Mental illness can affect students’ motivation, concentration and social interactions which are the crucial attributes for a student to succeed in college.  Hence this covid pandemic has brought into focus the mental health of various affected populations especially the college students.

Due to the long-lasting pandemic situation and strenuous measures such as lockdown and stay at home orders, the Covid 19 pandemic brings more of negative impacts on higher education students than the positives. This is because many feel increased stress levels , anxiety and depressive symptoms due to the  change in delivery and uncertainty of  college education, technological concerns of online courses, being away from home for those who were unable to travel home before the lockdown, social isolation which has limited interactions with fellow students especially for the extroverted students who love to interact with others , decreased family income and lastly future employment due to the uncertainty caused by the virus for example the work from home makes it very difficult for the students to find work opportunities for instance even internships  are hard to find since most companies are laying off their workers and remaining with as few workers as possible.

College students are increasingly recognized as vulnerable population, suffering from higher levels of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and Eating Disorders compared to the general population. College students are among the most strongly affected by Covid 19 because of uncertainty regarding their academic success and social life during college amongst other concerns. Even before the pandemic, students across the globe experienced increasing levels of anxiety, depressive moods, lack of self-esteem, psycho-somatic problems such as stress, substance abuse and suicidality. Therefore, students may need additional resources and services to deal with both physical and mental health repercussions.

The Covid 19 outbreak has contributed to the increased levels of stress, anxiety, depressive thoughts among the students entailing fear of infection, frustration, boredom, inadequate information, financial loss and stigma. Difficulty concentrating, disruptions in sleeping patterns, decreased social interactions due to social distancing and increased concerns on academic performance. Increased suicide rates basically due to poor mental health. Substance use disorders in many people who were abstinent before are expected to relapse during the covid 19 pandemic.

Therefore, in conclusion, the Covid- 19 outbreak has affected the mental health of many college students because of the rapid changes such as online classes that they are trying to adjust to and also the element of network issues and the cost of data. Some students especially those from dysfunctional families have a hard time staying at home because of what they go through for instance lack of support from their parent and/ guardians, emotional abuse which could result into suicidal thoughts, lack of self-esteem and so more much which affects the mental health of the students.

The fear of missing out is rampant among some students mostly those from rural settings because they do not have equal opportunity as those students in urban areas due to limited access to internet information and education as well. Hence all those result into high levels of anxiety, increased stress levels as the students are worried about their academic progress and futures careers as well since with the covid 19 pandemic, many people are being laid off and fears of some careers getting off the market especially due to the post- covid 19 effect

Substance abuse is also on the increase due to the boredom. This is because the students are not able to access all the outdoor activities hence resorting to abuse of substances just to get away from the present which in turn become addictive

The covid-19 has also resulted into increased cases of domestic violence among families and increased divorce rates as well. This also affects the students’ mental health because the aspect of parental separation is quite disturbing and a painful experience.

But again, looking on the positive side, quite a number of college students have managed to come out stronger since they had enough time for personal development and develop their talents as well as starting up businesses. That’s to say some students have been able to explore their creative self thus developing mentally.  This has enabled them to handle the world in whatever way it comes and learn the aspect of adjustability.

By Wamungu Bizimana Francois



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