Mental Health of Champlain Students Declining During Pandemic


Photo Credit: Mike Dunn on Flickr.

Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but college students are being hit particularly hard, between financial stress and demanding schoolwork. Champlain College is not doing everything it could to help with these stressors. 

A survey shows a general consensus that the overall mental state of Champlain College students has significantly worsened this year. Nearly every respondent said that their mental health has declined since March 2020, many citing loneliness as a catalyst for declining moods. 

Ella Quinlan added, “The consistent isolation with lack of stimulation outside of school has heightened my mental state. I feel constantly emotionally raw and exhausted.” Additionally, an anonymous student responded, “The fact that we’re all stuck inside is making it worse [to be honest], I’m not a social person but being alone with my thoughts, so to speak, is a torture method I swear.” 

The conclusion that most students are doing worse mentally is not unexpected; the pandemic has led to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation in many people. However, it is especially relevant in regards to college students because they have the added stressors of a demanding course load, some have jobs, and often students are struggling with financial insecurity; according to Champlain’s own website, the average loan debt for undergraduates in 2016 was $26,530. 

The consensus of how well Champlain College is handling student mental health is mixed. One anonymous student states that it was good that the college has counseling services and other resources available, with the caveat that there should be more information about them than just a few posters around. Katherine Taddeo says, “Well, I like how the professors acknowledge that we’ve all been going through tough times so it’s okay to feel a little fried. I like that Champlain has tried to keep the library and other rooms open for work because I need a studious atmosphere to work.”

However, some students had the opposite opinion. An anonymous student says, “I think this semester is definitely not setting us up for success. The fact that they have no scheduled breaks is going to take a massive toll on the entire student body, as burnout is already a problem for some with breaks.” Other respondents share this concern: “Please, God, cancel classes and work deadlines for one week. You will kill us if you do not, and to some degree, I mean that literally.” 

The lack of flexibility and demanding workloads from some professors also seems to be taking a toll on student mental health, and by extension, how well students are able to complete their work. First year student Madeleine Minks says, “I think professors could take students’ mental health into consideration when assigning work. I feel that some professors think that we have more free time during the pandemic, and therefore have more opportunity to do schoolwork. However, most students are struggling mentally during this time and therefore are capable of doing less work.” 

Nearly all of the students indicated in the survey that they are not doing well mentally right now, between dealing with existing mental illnesses, financial struggles, difficulties adapting to online learning, and isolation. Many students reported being overwhelmed by the workload, experiencing burnout, and feeling isolated and alone. 

Though Champlain is providing students with some resources to help themselves cope, many students are still in a great deal of pain during this crisis.