HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

New study finds virtual schooling has negatively impacted mental health for college students

Apr 13, 2022, 12:10 PM | Updated: Jun 11, 2022, 10:43 pm

CEDAR CITY, Utah — Mental health has declined for many college students who experienced virtual schooling during the pandemic — that’s one of the findings of a new study released by the Utah-based company, Qualtrics.

The data underscores the importance of making mental health resources more accessible, thoughtful, and personal.

Students at Southern Utah University shared that message with leaders, and it appears they’re listening.

Navigating the past two years has been anything but normal for college students.

“We know that mental health is emerging as a really pressing issue on campuses,” said Omar Garriott, global industry lead at Qualtrics Education.

Qualtrics surveyed 1,000 college students across the country. Thirty-nine percent said virtual schooling during the pandemic negatively impacted their mental health.

“You sort of have this one-two punch of the pandemic and virtual hybrid learning-driven issues creating mental health crises,” Garriott said. “And then, you have these more chronic issues around discrimination.”

Research showed:

  • 36% of college students have experienced discrimination at their institution – the top reasons were for their race or political views.
  • 29% of college students say either their institution doesn’t have mental health resources, or they don’t know if it does.
  • 63% of those who do have on campus resources say there are problems, such as long wait times or only short-term treatments available.
  • Only 57% of students say in a crisis situation, they would actually use the resources that their school has available.

“They don’t even know what resources are available and they don’t necessarily trust their schools can help address them.”

At Southern Utah University, leaders say access to mental and physical health care are limited.

Students asked administrators for more help and agreed to pay $44 a year for the institution to open a new health clinic this fall. Garriott says it’s a good first step.

“Schools need to make it a priority to understand where students are at and what’s behind these issues, but then make it really easy for them to connect to services that can help.”

One technical school in Oklahoma is doing just that by distributing QR codes via text so that students can request services privately. Garriott says they are seeing an increase in requests.

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New study finds virtual schooling has negatively impacted mental health for college students