College students’ mental health still struggling despite COVID-19 vaccines and no more lockdowns

Despite medical advances in vaccines that have allowed public places to reopen and a sense of normalcy resume, a new study finds that the mental and physical health of college students has not recovered.

Conducted by a group of international scientists Study on students Attending the University of Pittsburgh From spring 2019 through spring 2021 and its results published Thursday, the ongoing effects of the pandemic on physical activity and mental health were shown.

A year into the pandemic, researchers found that students’ daily steps fell by 35 percent, averaging about 6,300 per day compared to about 9,800 per day before the pandemic. Nearly half of participating students were at risk of clinical depression compared to just over a third before the pandemic, an increase of 36 percent.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented disruptions in almost all aspects of daily life. At the onset of the public health emergency, lockdowns and social distancing measures suddenly changed the way people interact, work and attend school, breaking old habits and forming new ones.”

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The researchers also noted a decrease in the number of hours of sleep obtained by college students, with clear fluctuations between 7 to 6.5 hours starting in February 2019. A sharp decrease was noted in February 2020, but quickly rebounded in March and April.

Mental health has been a struggle across age groups at the national level, with a Kaiser Family Foundation Poll revealing that about 4 in 10 adults during the pandemic have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. Before the pandemic, from January to June 2019, one in ten adults reported similar symptoms.

“These long-term effects of the epidemic are worrying. As lifestyle and mental health have not recovered as the epidemic begins to recede, it will be important to develop interventions to reduce sedentary habits and improve well-being” Silvia Skardo, co-author of the undergraduate study, in the current situation.

Saccardo and her co-authors argued that understanding the continuing effects of the pandemic on lifestyle and mental health is critical to inform policy. They estimated the pandemic’s short-term physical and mental health costs at $2.6 trillion and $1.6 trillion, respectively.

The researchers warned that if lifestyle habits and mental health do not recover normally as the epidemic subsides, interventions may be needed to help return people to a sense of normalcy.

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