NMSU professors study impact of pandemic on student mental health

Selema Graham

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Santana Ochoa

Student skateboards through the snow Oct. 27, 2020.

Two professors at New Mexico State University are conducting a study about how students’ mental health is being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Andres Perez-Rojas and Michael Kalkbrenner, assistant professors in the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, sent out an email Oct. 19 asking students to answer a survey.  

The email said the survey consists of several questionnaires and would likely take between 20 and 30 minutes to complete. It also said participants could enter for a chance to win a $20 gift card to Amazon. 

Perez-Rojas said he and Kalkbrenner wanted to investigate the possible correlations between the pandemic and mental health since the pandemic has been an ongoing situation and wanted to study its effects on students and their loved ones.  

“We just are trying to get a sense of what the impact of COVID-19 is on college student mental health,” Perez-Rojas said. 

Perez-Rojas said that it is important to see and acknowledge the different ways the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting people. Perez-Rojas said answers seemed to vary from having to wear a mask or go to school less, to some explaining an unexpected job loss or becoming the sole caretaker of their household. 

So we hope that with the study we can really begin to [see] in what ways is COVID impacting people. When does it seem to be impacting them positively, when does it seem to be impacting them negatively,” Perez-Rojas said.  

Perez-Rojas said they had a good turn out so far. 

I think we have over 700 people I think responding to the survey, which is pretty good. And after [closing the survey] hopefully we’ll get to analyze the data pretty quickly,” Perez-Rojas said. 

Mechanical Engineering major Austin Williams, who is in his first year and has two all online classes and three that are hybrid, said that this year is not what he expected from college. 

I was expecting a little bit more just in general. I thought it was going to be a lot more, and it’s probably different because of COVID, but I was expecting football games and stuff like that I just do school and then that’s it,” Williams said. 

Williams said that the hardest thing he’s faced in the pandemic is staying motivated in school, especially in the online classes. 

We’re in school, but it doesn’t feel like we’re in school. Especially when you’re online and you’re in your pajamas and you’re just sitting there like oh this is school,” Williams said“Some things have become easier, but now there’s new challenges because of it. 

Being online, Williams said he’s noticed that tests are shorter and don’t go over as much, but that if the WI-FI goes out while taking a test it won’t get saved and it won’t give you points. 

It doesn’t matter if you knew how to do it and if you had it right you get a zero for it because the work didn’t show up on it,” Williams said. 

He said COVID-19 has affected his personal life because it has made it hard to go see his family and friends who live out of state. 

Williams said his biggest fear is “it never ending. It just it just keeps going on.” 

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