The social isolation caused by COVID-19 is affecting student mental health, according to New Mexico State University’s Director of Employee Assistance Program, Loue Atencio.
“Counseling for anxiety and depression [has] gone up significantly because of people being isolated and not being able to get out to spend time with friends or even family members,” Atencio said.
Atencio also mentioned that counselors are getting busier because many students are reaching out and accessing services for the first time.
“They’re dealing with depression and anxiety and they just want to be able to know that they can speak to someone,” Atencio said.
The social isolation caused by the pandemic is causing some people to feel more stressed, anxious or depressed, according to Atencio.
“A lot of the students are used to being able to go out into the communities where they’re attending college and participate in gatherings,” Atencio said. “It inhibits the student’s abilities who have moved here from other states to kind of get familiar with the community that they’re now living in and the culture of this community.”
Atencio said many students say online classes make it harder to stay focused, but it is a “toss-up” if they like it more or less. A big factor for less is the lack of interaction with other students, Atencio noted.
“You had two or three people in the classroom that you could sit down with and bounce ideas off of and then go back and complete your homework and submit it,” Atencio said.
With everything being over Zoom or phone call, it is much harder for students to work with and get help from each other. Scheduling is also difficult because students have “obligations to their own families, their own friends,” Atencio said.
Ramon “Ramen” Perez a senior marketing major, said the pandemic and social isolation has affected him “a lot.”
Perez said he has not been doing as well in school now that it is online.
“I’m not as motivated in my schooling as I was when classes were in person. Looking at a screen isn’t the same as a face-to-face meeting,” Perez said.
Perez also added that the change has affected his memorization skills for classes.
“I feel like I did better from the memorizing aspect of school before the pandemic. Now I just look up anything I’m not sure about, so I haven’t memorized much,” Perez said.
Perez explained how the pandemic has affected his mental health. With school going online and being stuck more at home, he said he feels worse than before.
“The pandemic has made me more anxious about my assignments which has led to more stress and less sleep,” Perez said.
Perez also noted the social isolation has affected his family as well.
“Since my family is always home now, we are growing closer, but in some aspects, we irritate each other more than ever,” Perez said.
The Aggie Health and Wellness Center is continuing to offer telehealth services to all NMSU students.