Sania Soni knows what a surprise it would have been if the world had been better without you.
22-year-old Sonny feels it is important to be open about her lifelong struggle with mental health. His lowest point came six years ago when he tried to take his own life. She now says that she is “so grateful that I am moving” but acknowledges that gratitude comes over time. Since hospitalization, Sonny has learned to overcome her depression and anxiety, emphasizing therapy and supplementing it with medications as needed.
But then COVID-19 turned the world upside down last spring, and the Drexel University graduate – who completed his bachelor’s degree last month and went on to a full-time job in the tech sector – had to work in an entirely new reality. In the process, his mental health took a significant hit.
He is far from only one. Several studies conducted since last March have shown an increase in depression and an increase in anti-depressant drug refills in college-age young adults. As these students graduate and join the workforce, they do so without the free or cheap mental health care available at the college, which is concerned economists.
Health care professionals are therefore not calling on universities to expand, trim on-campus counseling resources for students and staff when they personally restore instruction in a few months.
“I’m worried that once things return to normal, colleges will become complacent,” said Gerry Taylor of the American College Health Association. “I think there is going to be a kind of backlash, a kind of PTSD from COVID. We are still seeing people who have lost their jobs, are in financial straits with their families. Those issues will still remain. “
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When Sonny moved from her home in the Bay Area to Philadelphia, where Drexel is located, she knew that she would need to build a support system on and off campus. But when COVID-19 hit and Drexel did everything online, much of that support system evaporated. Sony went home and immediately started pushing.
“I was most depressed when I was in high school,” Sonny says. The first few months at home, she was afraid that she would return to severe depression.
In Phoenix, Gregory Carnacey felt the opposite – his anxiety increased when he returned to the campus, not his home.
Carnesi, 21, a budding senior who studied psychology at Arizona State University, “has been in medicine and has been taking drugs for longer than I can remember – most of my life.” His mental health issues include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and general anxiety.
When the epidemic began in March 2020, he immediately went home. And when the campus reopened in August, he went back, hoping to be more productive surrounded by other students. It did not go according to plan.
“At home, I was separated from COVID; I could almost pretend it wasn’t affecting me, “he says. “But when I went back, I saw how bad things were: the campus was a ghost town. There were COVID-19 awareness posters everywhere. It was just a constant reminder that this epidemic is killing people – even Even in the dorm bathroom, those reminders were the first things you saw. The reality of it all affected, and it really scared me. “