COVID-19’s Shadow: How Coronavirus has Impacted Our Recent High School Grads’ & College Students’ Mental Health

COVID-19 College Mental Health

For many high school seniors this year, the end of the school year wasn’t ideal. Prom was cancelled, graduation just wasn’t the same and graduation parties, well, weren’t really a thing in the midst of a global pandemic. Job prospects suddenly disappeared, part-time jobs withered away, and some opportunities seemed to vanish. COVID-19 didn’t seem to care about the fact that these were supposed to be some of the most exciting few months for new grads and it has left many young people lost, fearful, and frustrated. 

A Change of Plans

According to a survey led in part by Junior Achievement USA, nearly half of the high school graduating Class of 2020 changed their plans as a result of the global pandemic. This included many adolescents choosing to find work instead of participating in college, opting to delay college, or changing their career path. 

More than half of students who still chose to attend college this fall, including college students returning to campus, reported they were cornered about the impact of Covid-19 on their classes and academic quality of those classes. More than half reported they were also concerned about the impact coronavirus would have on dorm life. 

Many recent high school graduates and college students worry about unstable finances, whether it’s that of their supporting parents or due to the lack of part-time jobs. Other students worry about remote learning, their ability to focus and learn in this way and how most college tuitions refuse to budge despite these changes. And, of course, there’s always the fear of infection. 

So with all this fear and uncertainty, what can students and parents possibly do?

Surviving the Unprecedented

“How do I justify going to an expensive college when I don’t get to enjoy all the ‘normal’ facets of college life?” “How do I know I’m getting the same education?” “Am I being safe?” 

These are just a few questions you may have as a recent grad, or hear as a parent of a graduate. 

First things first, stop and breathe. Recognize that COVID-19 and its effects on the community, economy and world have never before been experienced. We’re all learning how to adapt and cope with this together. 

COVID-19 Mental Health for Young Adults

Parents, talk to your recent high school graduate about their options. By this time in the year they have probably already made a choice on whether to attend college, take a gap year, or perhaps pursue a different career path. Whatever the choice, make sure that, whenever uncertainty arises, to be available to hear their concerns and provide guidance and reassurance. 

Individual therapy/teletherapy is also an excellent opportunity for recent grads or young adults to receive direction and confidence; often free mental health care resources are offered by your college. Check with your insurance too, as many insurances cover the cost of therapy.

Students attending college who are facing anxiety or depression due to the effects of COVID-19 can reevaluate their choices and find strength in their current path. Here are some points to focus on as a student attending college during coronavirus:

  1. Connect with your peers in a safe way. Parties are often discouraged on campus due to COVID-19, but small gatherings or virtual meet-ups are great ways to stay positive and “vent” to others (who probably share the same concerns!)
  2. Remind yourself why you chose the school you are attending. You may be attending school remotely, but that doesn’t take away from why this particular school is important to you. Write down why college is special to you and why you choose to attend. 
  3. Colleges need you! Spoiler: colleges need you to survive, so you have every right to use them to work for you. Use their mental health resources, learning opportunities, special events (even if they’re virtual) and more. Colleges are working hard to navigate this pandemic, so be sure to let them know how they can best serve you.
  4. Focus on your future. Remind yourself that you came to college to improve your future. While right now may not be ideal due to COVID-19, it doesn’t mean next year will be the same. Focus on what you enjoy, your academic achievements and what you hope to accomplish in the years to come. 

Finding Support for Young Adults During Coronavirus

The pandemic has its fair share of challenges for college students and recent graduates: remote learning, financial responsibilities in the face of unemployment and the ever present worry of infection. We want to remind teens, young adults and their parents that we’re here to help navigate this new world. 

Triani Counseling Group is here to help, specifically in these times where, well, things seem to get too overwhelming. We’re here to help young adults make plans and identify goals, learn tools to cope with anxiety, depressions or other mental health issues, or simply to just to talk. Coronavirus is not the end of your dreams. It’s a hurdle that you will overcome! 

Let us know if we can help. We’re here for you every step of the way.

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