The C word: Coronavirus and student mental health

student looking concerned and pensiveLast week it was announced that we wouldn’t be attending face-to-face lectures and our education was moving online. But for how long? There’s so much uncertainty at the moment and I don’t think anyone knows the answer. With uncertainty comes a lot of fear and anxiety. I saw a post on social media that recommended trying to recreate my working day at home as closely as possible. But for students, lectures and societies or clubs are often the only things that give structure to our days.

The coming weeks should have been Varsity and we should have been celebrating being the mighty Marjon. Who knows we might even have won this year? Instead the news spread very quickly that things were being cancelled and we were advised to go home. It didn’t take long for campus to be pretty empty.

Along with the empty campus came the feeling for many third years that this was the end of their time at Marjon. The end to their university journey but without the big ending we all look forward to. We don’t know yet if that’s true, we could all be back after Easter but at the moment we just don’t know. It doesn’t seem fair to not get the chance to say goodbye at all.

For students, Marjon is much more than an institution of higher education. For some of us it’s our closest friends, our family and our home. But just because we can’t physically be there it doesn’t stop this being true. I’ve always thought how lucky we are to study at a smaller university and I still think that, even with everything going on. Lecturers are working their hardest to adapt and deliver module content. All of the Marjon staff are doing their best to provide us with the care and support they always do. We have to remember that sadly nobody has the answers at the minute but as soon as they do, us students will be the first to know. Keep an eye on your Marjon email for the latest official updates.

For many of us coronavirus is likely to have very little impact, however there’s no way of telling how it may affect people you come in to contact with or the people they come in to contact with. The National Institute of Mental Health point out it’s important to not confuse social distancing and social isolation. You can still connect with people through the wonders of technology but to avoid face-to-face contact to reduce the virus spreading.

Student minds has some great resources on how to look after your mental health.

Here are some of the things they recommend:

  • Do things you enjoy or maybe even develop a new skill.

I’ve decided to learn to crochet. I’ve always wanted to learn and now seems like the time. I’m also planning to learn British sign language.

  • Try to develop a daily routine.

This is the one I think I’m going to find the hardest. The things you’d do to procrastinate don’t seem half as important if they’re some of the only things you have to do. I often put things off until the last minute but they suggest planning out your time to make good use of it.

  • Look after the space you’re in.

I find clearing up and organising a good way to give me back some control.

Lots of people also recommend exercise to help mental health. There’s loads of videos and tips being posted online but you could always just pop some music on and have a dance if that’s your thing.

Only time will tell but imagine the sub night when this is all over.

All we can really do is to try and be kind, to others and ourselves.

Further information:

  • See Marjon’s official coronavirus updates page
  • Support is available, contact studentsupport@marjon.ac.uk or call 01752 636891 during office hours or 01752 636700 ext 2222 out of hours.
  • Or contact the Chaplaincy team, Michelle Parkman and Claire McIlroy, for a supportive chat.

With thanks to Laura Hewett, BSc (Hons) Speech & Language Therapy student, for writing this.

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