Mental health is important—but, while that’s easy to say or write, it has proven to be a difficult piece of advice for many to act on. Treatment for mental afflictions still carries a stigma along with a price tag that can be a barrier in a country where some don’t even have access to basic healthcare. Faculty, staff, and administration should all be aware of the risks for students during this time, and also within their ranks.
Natalie Schwartz of Education Dive pointed out recent research on the state of Americans’ mental health during the pandemic, including a recent survey of college students which found that roughly a third of respondents screened positive for major depressive disorder and 39% screened positive for general anxiety. Schwartz added that the incidence of these issues was “higher among women, students of color, and low-income and LGBT students, as well as student caregivers and those who didn’t adapt well to remote instruction, according to the survey, which was conducted between May and July.” The Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality has completed additional research on mental health and communities of color.
Colleges and universities are doing what they can. This includes apps, resources, increased communications, guidance, and access to teletherapy, a growing field during the pandemic. At Georgetown, students have access to the university’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) as well as information and resources provided by Student Health Services. For working parents, the Georgetown Health Policy Institute has a helpful resource center on child and adolescent mental health.
This is an issue which of course impacts faculty and staff as well. Various reports have covered how working parents, and in some cases couples who both work in academia, are feeling the strain and coping with the circumstances. This year, more so than any other, issues such as mental health and burnout deserve deliberate attention in order to ensure success for everyone. With that in mind, Georgetown has assembled mental health resources for faculty and staff. For this to be a successful semester, we all have to put our health first.