A closer look into students’ mental health after stay-at-home order

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In March of last year, UNLV announced students would have to switch to online learning and professors would use Zoom and WebEx to teach the material that were once in-person.  

“I was happy,” said a senior at UNLV, Jovana Tomic. “When we all got that email right before spring break that said ‘we were going remote for a week’ we were all like ‘yes’.”

And then clases kept staying remote. After the first month, towards the end of the semester, Tomic hated it.

Online learning changed students’ morning routines, no longer requiring the need to get up two or three hours before class started to commute. Tomic said her daily routine was the opposite compared to the typical day.

“[I] like having a solid routine again,” Tomic said. “I think the biggest change is you’re in constant communication with your professor and things like that. When it was online school, you didn’t really talk to your professor ever unless you had a question. Now you see them and they know you and they see your face. It feels more personal.”

Universities welcomed students back to in-person for the fall semester. However, the return to the classroom came with new rules, like wearing a mask inside buildings and being vaccinated. 

“Honestly, as much as coming back in-person kind of scared me, I like it a lot better than online,” Tomic said. “If we went back to fully online, my mental health would probably go down again.”

UNLV’s Academic Success Center & Advising helps guide students to the resources they need to be successful. 

“My grades this semester are a lot better,” said Lauren Riley, a UNLV student. “I am a person that cares a lot about my grades, so it’s easy for me to go and talk to the professor after or before class. Last semester, my lowest grade was a C. I was really upset with myself, but it was nothing I could do because I was stuck at home doing the work by myself. My grades was the biggest toll on my mental health last year. This semester is halfway done and I am already back to my normal self, earning A’s and B’s in my courses.”

Professors and students primarily communicate through email, phone calls and even through video calls while attending virtual learning. This change of communication could not help all students when they need assistance from professors.

“The biggest struggle for me was getting in contact with my professors,” Riley said. “I was already struggling to figure out the material on my own and when it takes the professor days to respond it doesn’t benefit me at all. I liked getting to know my professors because they can help guide me to become successful and without their help, like fully, I felt like I was set up to fail. I care about my grades a lot, so thinking about potentially failing a course wasn’t the greatest feeling mentally.”

The pandemic put students into situations they had never thought would be possible, but it came with lessons that they will carry on into the future.

“I would tell other students to be optimistic and think positive,” Riley said. “I want them to think in the future and think that all of this will eventually end and be over. Those thoughts can really go a long way. I would also advise them to get help if they need it. Talking to someone about your feelings and what you are thinking can help because it helped me. I would always express to my parents how I feel trapped and don’t like doing online schooling anymore and that helped a lot mentally.”

UNLV offers Student Counseling and Psychological Services for students struggling mentally. This service provides a variety of services to help students address mental health concerns that they may have.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to checking out the service,” Riley said. “I personally did not know they offered it. If I ever feel myself getting into a depressed state I would reach out to them. I think every college should offer this type of service because it is very easy to feel like you can’t do great in a course and want to drop out.”

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