Students suffer as the pandemic takes a toll on their mental health

As the fall semester ends, many Texas State University students have struggled with their mental health and are reflecting on their experience being back on campus after more than a year of mostly online classes.

The Fall 2021 semester at Texas State University, was the first time where classes were able to return back to normal. In May 2021, Gov. Abbott signed an executive order saying that no government entity can require any person to wear a face covering. As a state-funded school, Texas State University could no longer mandate students to wear a mask.

Texas State University senior, Kendall Beyer, struggles with anxiety and depression, which has negatively affected her ability to focus on school. 

“ I would say that my time here [at Texas State] has definitely declined my mental health, mainly because there were a lot of outside factors… then I got depressed and so I’m just trying to work my way out of that,” Beyer said. 

Like many students, Beyer tries to balance her school and personal life, which the coronavirus has not made any easier. Beyer agrees that the university needs to make an effort to improve counseling resources. 

“I would love it if the university [did more to spread awareness about mental health] because I feel like there are a lot of people that do have depression and are really good at hiding it,” Beyer said.

Texas State University’s School of Art and Design professor, Jennifer Stob, has noticed that her students were struggling with mental health last year when she was teaching all of her classes online. 

“From casual observation, it seems to me that the counseling center is overwhelmed with student demand right now and that suggests to me that the university needs to allocate more funding to the counseling center and to make sure that students have more resources,” Stob said. 

Human interaction is a main part of how students learn and the quarantine has hindered the ability to interact with fellow students and instructors. The entire world has had to deal with the repercussions of the pandemic, which has taken a toll on students’ learning abilities.

“Many times if a student isn’t exhibiting severe signs of some sort of mental health crisis, the dean of students will ask professors to check in with the student. I think that many professors do that already unprompted, simply because they genuinely care for their students and notice as a person that they interact with regularly when something’s wrong,” Stob said.

 Classes are on campus at full capacity and students are expected to return to this routine as if they had not been learning remotely for a year and a half. To some students, this has benefited their learning abilities, but to others, it has been detrimental for their mental health.

 “I would check in with a student and have in the past, however the danger is that like most of the other professors at Texas State, I don’t have any specialization in psychology or psychotherapy, so all I can do is show them that I care, within the role of a professor. It’s difficult to navigate because professors are there also to help challenge students, finding the right balance between being compassionate, but also being challenging for their education in the most productive way is difficult,” Stob said.

Texas State University sophomore, Griffin O’Neal, is watchful of other students and their mental health as he helps out fellow classmates to work together through the rough times. O’Neal is sympathetic to others that are not transitioning well to life back in classrooms.

“I would definitely reach out to a student, if I saw a change in their mental state, if I had talked to them previously in class,” said O’Neal. 

Texas State University has provided a testing site on campus for students to have easy access and maintain the safety of the community. Testing regularly ensures that the campus can remain healthy for students to continue learning in-person.

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