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How Covid impacted the world’s mental health… especially students’

Covid-19 has evidently worsened the world population’s mental health. Today, I’d like to talk specifically about how it affected students’ well-being and how it changed their academic experience. Indeed, the repeated quarantines, the isolations, the one-meter distance rule, and constantly wearing a mask had an enormous impact on students’ mental health, heightening their anxiety, loneliness and depression.

Loneliness has been a constant presence for students during this pandemic. This is mostly since people could not leave their houses while they were in quarantine. Some studies, such as OPN, suggested that students were leaving their houses even less than the general public. In fact, three students out of ten would not leave their housing for seven consecutive days, in comparison to the general public, out of whom only one out of ten would not leave their housing for the same period of time. This naturally led to an increase in student loneliness, ultimately worsening student well-being.

Most students from abroad were in private accommodations or flats where they did not know each other very well, and all the rules in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 did not help students’ social life, amplifying their experience of total isolation. 

Students’ loneliness was also increased by the online lectures and seminars over the year. Most of the universities in the UK decided to not have face-to-face classes to limit the number of covid cases. This had a major impact on the students’ loneliness, as they spent most of their life on Zoom calls and over text. The lack of social interactions changed the academic experience: an SCIS survey showed that the students’ academic experience satisfaction rate decreased a lot and over 29% of the students were dissatisfied with their experience in university. In the meantime, the social experience satisfaction was a total failure as more than 53% of the students reported being dissatisfied with their social experience.

The pandemic clearly worsened anxiety globally. It is evident, therefore, how the epidemic increased people’s anxiety in the whole world, which in some countries, such as Mexico, increased by three times more in 2020 than before Covid began. 

How did UCL help students through Covid-19 epidemic? 

UCL had to undertake some measures for the mental health of their students throughout the pandemic. Firstly, UCL gave the opportunity during the academic year of 2020-2021 to get five self-certified Extenuating Circumstances (ECs). An Extenuating Circumstance is for students who experience difficulties to submit their work on time because of an unexpected event. When applying for an EC, the student must justify himself by saying what impacted his mental health and the reason why he wants this extension. As Covid-19 had a huge impact on the student’s mental health, ECs were a big relief for us all. 

UCL also helped students when they were in quarantine. Indeed, when people are isolated, they can’t go out to buy groceries or pharmaceutical drugs. As the cost of delivering food is quite expensive, UCL decided to give money to the students to deliver food as a sign of support. 

The Institute of Mental Health at UCL installed zoom calls that students could book if they felt the need to talk to someone during the pandemic. They also provided phone services, email chats and online support groups for students to talk about their issues and ask for help if they needed it. These chats truly helped the students not only to see that they were supported, but also that they were not the only ones in this situation, that the way they were feeling was common. 

Alexandra Buren

UC London '23

My name is Alexandra I’m 19. I am studying chemical engineering at UCL. I decided to join this online magazine to write articles about technologies and its progress but also about other current thrilling subjects.
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