UWB Students Struggle with Mental Health Facing the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by: Joshua Day, Yash Patel, Phung My Ly, Lin Zhou

Students trying to adapt to virtual education and zoom calls. Photo Credit: Yash Patel

During the COVID-19 pandemic, student mental health concerns raised because of the stay-at-home order, matters turned worse as UW abruptly cancelled all in-person classes starting Spring quarter. Due to the sudden switch from in-person to online, a tremendous amount of disconnection between the communication of students’ needs have raised concerns along with limited resources provided by the school. 

Due to there being stay-at-order in Washington, students’ normal studying and life are affected. For many students who are already familiar with taking classes in person, the implementation of the online classes has caused unavoidable problems for their studying. They need to spend more time on understanding lectures and self-study, but also need to search more materials or information to help them improve their study. During the interview of a UWB student named Nannan Jia, she said that she felt that the online classes are a little boring and she felt stressed when she was waiting for professor’s emails and she would worry about if she had enough time to finish her assignments.

“Students are facing difficulty in adapting to the online classes system due to the coronavirus situation” said John Narikulam, another student at UWB.

Many professors feel that since there is lack of in person classes/education, students need to make up for that with extra homework or assignments. Some professors decided to give out extra home work, just for the sake of assigning homework in replacement for in class meetings. The frustrating part of all these matters is the fact that some assignments are being given out with lack of content. Which leads to anxiety and confusion, affecting students’ mental health heavily.

These changes may bring mental distress and pressure to some students. Taking classes in person is a collective form, students have the emotional support from each other or professor, but when they take classes online,  they are isolated from that social support at home and lack communication between their peers. Then, some students feel that the fatigue of studying is relatively high, and the problems in studying cannot be corrected on time, which may easily lead to emotional disorders and feelings of stress. The rhythm of life is disrupted, students have difficulty adapting, and lack companions in home study.

Nannan Jia and John Narikulam aren’t the only students feeling stressed. During the 4th and 5th week of this spring quarter, The Advising office of UWB sent a survey to the community to gauge how they were feeling and their access to resources. The survey concluded with nearly 600 responses, with 68% of the students requesting a follow-up from the CARE Team  The results may not be surprising since the Covid-19 pandemic has negatively affected everyone in the world, and UWB students are no exception to this. According to this survey, 74% of the students “are very or extremely stressed,” 71% of the students are having more difficulty taking online classes, 65% feel like this quarter is the worst quarter they’ve experienced so far, and 49% “are very or completely overwhelmed with their financial situation.”

In the beginning, when UW announced that it will cancel all in-person classes, students who were living at the dorms by school were confused, anxious, and scared. They have spent the majority of their college years staying at the dorms, utilizing the gym, computers, transportations that was provided by the library, and the school. The thought of traveling back home and not knowing if they would have stable wifi or a laptop that will run scared these students. For many of the students who were in similar situations, they all packed their belongings and left school over the weekend with unknown days laid ahead of them.

There are many other students that are having difficulty accessing resources like computers. According to the same 4th and 5th week survey, 30% of the students expressed having problems accessing the resources from UWB. About 50 students each had problems accessing the Counseling Center, Academic Advising, the Library, Financial Aid, and Emergency Funds with about 40 students each having issues with  the Quantitative Skills Center and the HaWRC.

With all the changes happening so rapidly, it is difficult to predict what the next few months will be or how the end of 2020 will unfold. However, as humans we have the ability to adapt to change, and the new environment. The quarter is also wrapping up here real soon, with everything that has happened, it will be a lesson learned and another baggage of knowledge that students along with the faculties will carry on for the next journey. Our hope is that we were able to spread some sort of awareness about the current problems that the students as well as faculties have been, and are experiencing in this strange time. We would like to end this news report with a question for you, as readers: How would you describe your experience with the sudden switch to online classes, what are some of your difficulties and what do you wish to know beforehand in order to prepare for this challenge?

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