‘COVID-19 restrictions caused me to overdose’: The mental health decline of students in Sheffield

‘I isolated myself and just stopped eating’

According to the charity Young Minds, around 80 percent of young people think that the coronavirus pandemic has made their mental health worse.

With over 1,000 Sheffield students in self-isolation and a local lockdown looming, it is no surprise that for some, their mental health is taking a huge knock.

A fourth-year medical student from the University of Sheffield spoke to the Sheffield Tab about her recent struggles, and said: “When the new restrictions were put in place by the government and we were told it will be like this for six more months, my mental health deteriorated. I isolated myself and stopped eating. It got to the point where I self-harmed and took an overdose.”

“I need social interactions to keep me uplifted,” she continued. “So the new restrictions were a massive trigger for me, especially announcing it would be for six months.”

Unfortunately, this kind of mental health decline is not an isolated event amongst students. A first-year occupational therapy student from Sheffield Hallam University told The Tab: “Being so isolated during the initial lockdown took its toll on me and I have been very down and depressed ever since.

“I thought moving to uni would help but there are not enough restrictions to stop large gatherings and house parties.”

Sheffield students are struggling, not only with the current restrictions but with the long-term impacts of the initial lockdown too. “I’ve found that because I spent months not speaking to people outside of my house, I have become a lot more anxious. So now, when it comes to speaking in Zoom classes, I struggle,” a first-year Politics and Sociology student from the Uni of told The Tab.

Following the announcement that all teaching at Uni of will be online for at least 10 days and contact hours at Hallam severely reduced, students are feeling more isolated than ever.

A second-year Engineering student from Sheffield Hallam described this isolation, and said: “With teaching now being fully online, we are trapped in our rooms for long periods of time. I am new to Sheffield so I’ve been unable to meet anyone from my course or make any friends which has left me feeling isolated in a new city.

“I am questioning whether coming to uni this year, with all the government restrictions, was even the right decision. It is getting so bad I am considering going on anti-depressants.”

He went on to say: “In a few weeks, I think there should be more seminars in person and we should definitely have our tuition reduced. There should also be the option to terminate rent contracts if the rest of the academic year is going to be online.”

The government restrictions have been tough on students. Both universities operate their own mental health support and encourage students to reach out for help if they need it. You can access the University of Sheffield wellbeing services here, and Sheffield Hallam wellbeing services here.

Alternatively, if you’re struggling then you can call The Samaritans on 116123, or giveusashout by texting ‘SHOUT’ to 85258.

Other stories recommended by this writer:

• A local lockdown in Sheffield is ‘inevitable’ warns health boss, as cases at uni rise

• ‘It’s been a shambles from start to finish’: Meet the self-isolating Sheffield students

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