Student mental health is being neglected, right when we need help the most
I had coronavirus, and as my physical symptoms improved, my mental health decreased
Recently I was tested positive for coronavirus. I had been having symptoms and so immediately began to isolate and booked in to get a test. I kept telling myself, trying to reassure myself, that it was just the flu, yet on the day I got my results I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that it wasn’t the flu, that I definitely had Covid.
The first few days, my symptoms got progressively worse. I could barely get out of bed, my whole body screaming at me from head to toe. I’ve been in hospital once before in a critical condition, and the only thing I could compare it to was that. I was terrified, in agony and very ready to call an ambulance.
Fortunately, as the days went on I felt a bit better day by day. But as my physical symptoms improved, my mental health declined. With the fears of the unknown lasting damage which Covid can have on one’s body and living in a house with new people, I felt completely and utterly trapped.
Being physically ill with a virus, in which so much is still unknown, and in a house where tensions are high and strong friendships haven’t yet been established , is a recipe for a mental health disaster. And I am very lucky compared to a fresher, as I have friends outside my house and a support network in place due to going into my third year.
As my physical symptoms improved, my mental health decreased. I had probably lost around eight litres of fluid from tears alone, had howled down the phone to my boyfriend and best friend telling them I wanted to rent out my room and flee to a different country and had messaged a help number saying I was worried I was going to do something to myself.
Now, I know isolation is isolation for a reason, but I did not just feel physically isolated, but mentally too. Yes, great the NHS have messaged me since my results to remind me to isolate (like I could forget), but where was the text to check in with my mental health?
Student mental health has always been an issue and it feels like it’s being overlooked again. The situation is only going to get worse.
Mental health in young people is precarious enough, with the World Health Organisation stating: “Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds.”
It feels like the government and the rest of the population are not supporting but instead targeting young people – young people who are the future of this country.
Man Met students have faced exceedingly difficult times recently due to outbreaks in their halls and a complete lack of support from their University. A student told The Sunday Times that the idea of not being able to see family for months “terrifies” him. And that due to being stuck in a flat with people they barely know that he was, “worried about mental health”.
Another student reported: “Mental health problems are very apparent. It’s becoming very, very worrying.”
— Emma Kenny (@emmakennytv) September 27, 2020
The ability to travel home for Christmas is already being threatened to be ripped from us, which oh yeah, is a great idea isn’t it? Especially for freshers who will have to continue to be stuck in halls with people they don’t really know, with all uni online, with minimal (if any) support, due to having been devoid of human interaction.
Even if we aren’t the ones who will get most physically ill by coronavirus, our mental health has the potential to be drastically negatively affected. So where is the support? Where is the humanity? Right now it feels like we are getting the opposite, we are getting targeted and alienated.
students and young people, please remember how the government completely left you on your own, fucked you over and then blamed you for a rise in cases when you’re choosing who to vote for.
— abigail (@abbiemalonexx) September 24, 2020
Stay in, go out. Young people – support your local economy, but don’t up the risk of spreading the virus. Go to the pub, don’t go to the pub. Which one is it Boris?
Whatever young people do at this moment in time, we will be blamed. We are being targeted, punished and we will be the ones who suffer most the consequences of having an awful government.
As Lois Heslop discusses in The Telegraph: “In no other country has the government’s pandemic strategy been to blame the public for the errors of politicians. Nowhere else have those in charge used young people as scapegoats to shift the focus from their own mistakes.
“Ministers must stop trying to encourage tensions between students and their grandparents and end their campaign to make campus life as intolerable as possible.”
young people PLS PLS go to pubs and go for food!!!!! we really need to help the economy and big businesses!!!! meet your friends it’s safe now!!!!! … but YOU will be blamed for the inevitable second wave we all knew was coming!! also yes u will still be paying full uni fees❤️
— peej (@b4b3ss) September 8, 2020
In a time where young people have been so ostracised, not only by the government, but the rest of society too, it is so important that we stick together, support one another and be kind. Freshers don’t have the luxury of a solid support network due to being so new to University and students are being blamed and targeted left right and centre. This already has, and will continue to have, an immense toll on young people’s mental health.
Something needs to change and soon, the blame, targeting and alienation of students needs to end before young people are mentally pushed too far.
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