Recently, the general mental health of students at Mercyhurst has been a concern of the administration. In light of this, I’ve encountered varying responses by professors. Some entirely ignore it; some ask what they can do; some apologize but refuse to change the course at all to alleviate some of the stress. By and large, most of them have asked what kind of things have been contributing to the increase in stress and decrease in motivation.
The pandemic has desensitized us to being constantly available even while being isolated. There is no break; even if we’re not in class or at work, we’re responding to emails or doing homework. It quite literally never stops. Most of us have gotten into routines that have us working from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. This is incredibly exhausting, especially when quarantine has gotten us so used to being alone.When Mercyhurst first went online in 2020, professors were very understanding of the situation and difficulties that came with it. This is our first entirely in-person semester since fall of 2019. Since this is what used to be normal protocol, it is treated as such. But it’s not normal anymore. I’ve heard from so many friends that have expressed how overwhelmed they’ve been in packed classrooms sitting still for an hour. We’ve all gotten so accustomed to life online that returning to old ways is incredibly anxiety-inducing.
All of us are burnt out from nearly two years of a seemingly never-ending pandemic that has changed the entire world as any of us have ever known it. Some of our most crucial formative years have been overshadowed by quarantines and will likely soon be followed by a recession. I understand that we’ve have nearly two years to adapt to the pandemic. But why are we acting like all of this is normal?Why are we acting like working ourselves this hard through an active pandemic is not only normal but expected? The emphasis on mental health in this country has been sorely lacking for a long time, but this is honestly unreal.
College is supposed to be the time of your life; very few of us can actually say that this is turning out to be true in our own lives. We’ve lost so much to the pandemic that our generation especially will never be able to replace. The worst part is we’ll never know what those lost things are or how things could have been different. I’m not saying that everything should be a cake walk and we should just be handed degrees; I am saying the way we’re operating right now is not sustainable. We have to make a change, and our campus is as good a place as any to start.
Professors, I understand that you have to give students work, there is no way around it. Just please be conscious of the situation we’re finding ourselves in outside of the classroom. Be mindful of deadlines and unnecessary busywork.If we don’t do something, mental health on campus is going to continue to devolve. We need to address this before it gets past the point of repair. The mental health of our students should be a major concern of the administration, and they should be taking proactive steps to treat it as such.