Cal Lutheran should be more upfront about mental health resources

Whitaker Proll-Clark, Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative effect on students’ mental health and academic careers.

At California Lutheran University, this has resulted in 39% of all students seeking support from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), said Director Elizabeth Turner, in an email interview.

This might be because students have been isolated from friends, in some cases family, and left on their own to work on their academic careers virtually.

Cal Lutheran must be more proactive about directing students to mental health resources.

This is important because 62% of all students at Cal Lutheran have reported that COVID-19 has affected their mental health and motivation, Turner said.

Isolation is a key factor in causing people to become depressed, Amy Novotney wrote in an article for the American Psychological Association. This is because, when isolated, people do not have a support network in difficult times.

Cal Lutheran would benefit greatly from sending out emails and notifying students about the importance of on-campus services like CAPS.

Many students struggle in college because of the academic demands and the pandemic has only made it harder for them to achieve good grades in school.

“The pandemic has definitely added some academic strain,” said Eli Moore, a junior at Cal Lutheran, in a phone interview.

Long hours on Zoom calls have also been a common complaint among students across the country.

“Actually on Tuesdays I go from 9:30 in the morning all the way until 10 p.m.,” Moore said. “It’s really difficult to go multiple hours in a row on Zoom.”

Another struggle includes finding a place to get homework done while still being in an environment that feels warm and comfortable.

“It [the pandemic] also made academics hard because I have trouble concentrating at home,” Riley Mitchell, a junior and accounting major, said in a phone interview.

During the pandemic, students have been mainly confined to their living spaces since they cannot go out to places such as Starbucks or a library. Sitting alone in the same place can make students feel sad or lonely, which can hurt their ability to concentrate.

“It drained my mental health to a little bit of a low because I am cooped up in the house all day and not really able to see that many people,” Mitchell said.

Cal Lutheran could help with this on campus by letting residential students know of open study spaces such as unoccupied tent classrooms, courtyards or fields in addition to the library and student union study rooms.

Some college students might also be struggling with their academics and mental health because their feelings of community are taken away due to the social isolation and confinement in their homes. Personally, I feel the need to be around other people my age and be active outside of school for my mental health to benefit.

Struggles like COVID-19 sometimes show how humanity can stick together and make it through the worst of times. Through all the struggles the pandemic has created for students since the beginning of the stay-at-home orders, some students have found joy in such hard times.

“The main way people are going to get through this are just finding the small things to occupy their time… It would be really rough if I had to sit in my room all day and dwell on the fact that the pandemic is still going on,” Moore said. “I am thankful that I’ve gotten to spend more time with my family.”

I have struggled with the prolonged isolation and I know the pandemic has affected others’ mental health too.

Students already are presented with many challenges in school, and Cal Lutheran should help inform students about aid they can receive to help relieve their stress and mental health issues during the pandemic.