It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the mental health of students everywhere. The isolation enforced by quarantine, the lack of socialization due to online classes and the increased levels of anxiety or depression because of the pandemic has hit students hard.
On the bright side, campus is opening back up, more classes are being offered in person and students will be returning to campus this semester. Those three things make it seem like the fall 2021 semester will be the first taste of normalcy in a long time.
However, in a post-pandemic world, how can we make sure that IU Southeast can provide support and understanding for all the students that are suffering from a decrease in their mental health when they are back on campus?
For starters, we can begin by focusing more attention on supporting and utilizing the services that the Counseling and Psychological Services provides on campus. There are currently only two full-time counselors available at CAPS, Michael Day and Karen Ritchie.
The rest of the counselors on staff are part-time.
At other universities in Indiana that are similar in size to IUS like Valparaiso University and Butler University, there are more full-time counselors on staff.
Valparaiso has six. Butler has four.
The student population at all three universities is about the same. Despite that, the counseling program at IUS pales in comparison both in terms of staff and funding.
While IUS is a regional campus of a much larger parent campus, they are still the same size as the stand-alone universities listed above. This means that the university should take the needs of their students into consideration and make an effort to help provide CAPS with more full-time help, both for the sake of students and for the sake of the counselors.
The need for more options
Students need to have more options available so they can get the help they need when they need it, especially now in a post-pandemic environment that may cause stress and decreased levels of mental health. Anxiety disorders and depression can have a huge impact on the daily lives of students.
In an interview with Day conducted during the spring 2021 semester, he mentioned the impact that COVID-19 has had on students and their mental health.
“The pandemic has increased anxiety,” he said. “It’s also caused a higher rate of people dropping out of class and failing.”
He also said that despite efforts made to have events and seminars related to mental health, the attendance has been low. Some events have even had zero people in attendance.
While students may easily overlook the flyers and emails in relation to those events, they’re important. They might provide insight to students on something that they’re struggling with, or maybe even convince them to start utilizing the services provided by CAPS.
Overall, students should feel just as comfortable taking care of themselves mentally as they do physically. After all, mental health is just as important as physical health. Lowering the bar of intimidation is the first step toward normalizing mental health. If students aren’t comfortable taking that first step, we’re here to help them feel comfortable.
One way that first step can be achieved is by providing more mental health-related options for students.
The Horizon cares about and supports the mental health of students at IUS. You should too.
If you or someone you know is struggling, contact CAPS by email at email@example.com or at (812) 941-2244.