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College Students Seek Mental-Health Services Amid COVID, Monkeypox


Thursday, August 18, 2022   

Universities across the country lost enrollment to COVID-19. As students return, Texas A&M is making sure adequate mental-health services are in place to help them navigate the "new normal."

Mary Ann Covey, director of the student counseling center at Texas A&M University, said students quit or did not enroll because of illness and the ever-changing safety measures required at higher-ed institutions some found disruptive or even intolerable. Covey recounted as the pandemic raged on, some students created their own ways to cope while others felt lost.

"You know, 'Do I fit in, do I belong, what does that look like? Can I handle the coursework?' There's a real sense of self-doubt because they've been online," Covey pointed out.

When classes start next week, Texas A&M will recommend students wear masks when indoors, and offer both free vaccines and testing sites.

Rebecca Fischer, epidemiologist and assistant professor at Texas A&M, has reminded students monkeypox is not highly transmissible through casual contact, noting the risk of infection remains low, and classroom spread is not expected.

For two years, COVID hampered many traditional communication channels, according to Covey, which caused students to avoid interactions, resulting in developmental delays.

"You saw (high school) seniors didn't get to be a senior, juniors really didn't get to be a junior or a senior, and so starting college was incredibly overwhelming," Covey observed.

Covey added more students began seeking mental-health services and appointments there as early as 2018.

Texas A&M has since launched a mobile app called "My Student Support Program" or "My SSP," which allows students to access short-term virtual counseling.

Disclosure: Lumina Foundation for Education contributes to our fund for reporting on Education. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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