How can I help my University child?
It can be an emotional journey when your child (now an adult but always your child) leaves for University Transitions into the Fall. Seeing your child head off with most of their belongings can leave some parents bereft for a while. This marks an end to an era. You will no longer know how they are on a daily basis. You can no longer make sure that they eat well nor can you monitor their mood and happiness levels. Now is the time to trust that all of your ‘wise’ words have subliminally been assimilated even though they were met with a dismissive grunt at the time.
Then Covid Hits
Your young adult may have started University in 2019…year 1 was going as expected. Too much drinking, socialising, becoming nocturnal…studying as a sideline to feeling independent for the first time. A right of passage being navigated. Then in January 2020 rumours started about the Covid pandemic. Covid was (believed to be) just in China, although unbeknownst to most of us, the first case had already been found in the Uk.
Lockdown#1 happened at the end of March 2020 Lockdown Fatigue Syndrome!. An unprecedented move in the Uk. Frightening for many. University students were sent home and online study eventually started up. The adjustment was slow in many cases and some students received very little input from March until the end of year 1. Students were forced to live back in the family home for months with little or no real time meet ups with friends.
The prospect of students enrolling for the September 2020 seemed, for many, to be an escape from home confinement. Young people still left home and joined the other students on campus. Student life has always been sold as being a hedonistic experience of meeting new people and socialising as never before. However in September 2020, all students were met with a very different student life. Students were seen in the press as pariahs in the communities that they migrated to, the spreaders of the virus. They were vilified in the media as being irresponsible and cases of rising infection blamed on them. Socialising was limited to flat mates and journeys home were discouraged.
In early November, Manchester University students awoke to find that they were barricaded in by £11k of fencing. They tore it down. Lockdown #2 & then Lockdown #3 followed. The effect on the students mental health has to be vast.
Mental Health at University
Mental health has been affected by the pandemic. Fear, isolation and boredom have taken their toll. One student, studying and art based course said:
‘I have not been able to go into the studio. I work in my small room. In the studio I could get more inspiration and the tutors were around to ask advice. Now everything is online. I email for help but it can take ages to get a reply. I had to self isolate for 14 days on my own, in a small room, it was awful. I am stressed, down and lack motivation. I have been thinking of dropping out..’
This young woman is not alone. According to an NUS survey (1):
‘More than 50% of students say their mental health has declined since the Covid pandemic began…. Many of the 4,241 students surveyed in November say they have suffered stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression.’
How you can help your child/adult
It can be really hard to help a teenager/adult! They may well not want help from you or be able to put into words how they feel. They may be at University or holed up in their bedroom at home. The best thing is to try and keep the communication going. This may mean:
- Avoiding the conversation that you want to have until an opportune moment occurs.
- Engage but don’t interrogate.
- Talk at a time that they may be more receptive.
- Remain curious and don’t assume.
- Encourage them to speak to tutors, welfare at their University or go to the GP if they are very low mood or highly anxious. They do not have to cope alone.
What you can suggest..
- Keep talking! Talk to friends, family, tutors.
- Support those around you. Helping others is a great tool for improving your own mental health.
- Become more creative. Paint, draw, cook…knit!
- Journal – this is a proven tool to help with mental health.
- Get up & go to bed at the same time. Don’t lie in bed all day.
- Meditate or try yoga
- Plan for social events etc when the Lockdown ends.
- Young Minds
- The Mental Health Foundation
- The World Health Organisation (note: dated 6th March 2020)
I make every effort to ensure that advice on this website is accurate and up to date. As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals I cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can I be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link.
- Student Minds: (https://www.studentminds.org.uk/coronavirus_lookingafteryourmentalhealth.html 1/3/21 @ 10;10)
- Student mental health: ‘I am living in a bubble of one’: By Dan Johnson & Claire Kendall. (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-55105044 1/3/21@10;09)