And, while so much attention is being given to the importance of people maintaining in the best possible physical health, due to the nature of Covid-19’s symptoms, the vital importance of maintaining positive mental health during these times cannot be understated.
One large sector that has been forced to quickly adapt to new Covid-19 lockdown laws in light of the coronavirus pandemic is the education sector.
Specifically, universities have seen many negative impacts due to the pandemic, especially in terms of the effects of lockdown on student’s mental wellbeing and potential for developing a drug addiction, alcohol addiction, or a new and increasingly more prevalent addiction amongst university students, internet addiction.
How Has Lockdown Changed Education?
Across the mainstream media, there have been many parents expressing the difficulties that they now face having to monitor the home-schooling of their children while also trying to keep up with working from home themselves.
With education suddenly becoming purely virtual, and with many people, both teachers and students alike, being largely unprepared for this sudden shift in approach, life has been very difficult for people throughout the education sector in recent months.
Although, while parents have been struggling with younger children, university students are also very much feeling the sting of lockdown.
University Students, Binge-Drinking Culture, And Internet Addiction!
It is no secret that there is a strong cultural association between university students and a culture of heavy drinking. For years now, university club socials and freshers’ welcome fair events have been seen as sites where extreme drinking can take place.
As lockdown laws see university students, either living at home or in university halls, feeling progressively more detached from their peers and their lecturers, and in some cases their family, this can lead to a deterioration in student’s mental health and, ultimately, drug use and alcohol abuse.
However, there have been growing concerns that drug addiction and alcohol addiction may not be the only effects of lockdown on addiction that university students are facing at present.
Rather, there are more and more people who have shown concern that many university students may be facing internet addiction, which is distinguished as an individual’s excessive time spent on social media and/or engaged with online gaming.
Internet addiction disorder can cause a person to develop signs of increasing social isolation, social anxiety, inexplicable mood swings, and many more symptoms according to UK Addiction Treatment Centres.
While there are those who advocate that social media, and the internet in general, can be a great way for people to create communities and feel connected to other people, the use of technology to feel sense of connection with someone can normally only really be effective is actual contact is made.
This can include actually receiving or sending a personal message; however, sadly, a lot of people may be too nervous to actually engage with an online discussion. And, by simply whiling away hours watching others engage with one another, this can only further feelings of social exclusion in certain people.
How Will Things Get Worse For University Students
With no end necessarily insight for the coronavirus pandemic, it is sadly unlikely that things will return to what we would consider “normal” in the near future.
According to statistics obtained by The Guardian, Nightline, a stunted volunteer-run helpline for students, has received record-high numbers of calls from students struggling with anxiety, depression, and/or other issues in recent months.
“We normally see significant numbers of calls dealing with loneliness, and this year that number is higher,” Nightline trustee, Brendan Mahon, told The Guardian. “Anecdotally [we’ve] heard from a number of Nightline’s that they have been getting an increased number of calls where people talk about suicide,” they continued.
As more students feel progressively more socially isolated over the coming months, students’ mental health is unlikely to improve without something being done to provide aid for those students in need, be it increased access to professional helplines or mental health resources.
And, sadly, as students continue to struggle with stress and depression, something added to especially during exam/essay periods, there is an incredibly high risk of students developing problematic behaviour and subsequently facing serious alcohol abuse disorders, substance abuse disorders, or internet addiction disorders.
Drinking and drugs may provide university students with a seemingly temporary escape from the incredibly stressful factors that they are facing right now, but it is important to find ways to emphasise to these students that this will only cause detrimental effects to their health, both mental and physical, in the long and short term.
Whether it is done through additional professional mental health and addiction resources being provided to university students or simply by reaching out to a student that you know to check how they are doing, it is important that we recognise the dangerous effects of lockdown on students and find ways to support them.
How Can Students Get Help?
As mentioned, there are some resources available to students, such as helplines, that are set up to provide support to those who are struggling
However, there have been calls for governments and university officials to increase the level of support for students, and find ways for safe socialising in support groups that adhere to lockdown guidelines.
Although, if you are a student who feels like you are in need of addiction support, then Asana Lodge is still open throughout the coronavirus pandemic and is operating in as safe a way as possible.Back to all posts