Colleges Fear Mental Health Crisis Amid Covid Surge

Princeton University, where a student committed suicide while studying remotely last spring, has seen a 15 percent increase in demand for services, a record.

“More students were reporting various instances of homesickness where they really felt lost by not having their parents around,” said Calvin R. Chen, director of counseling and psychological services at the school.

There is no doubt that the loss of a large part of college changed the social dynamic on campus, as if the students were all Rip Van Winkels, returning from a long slumber.

Josh Nagra came home to close as a freshman at Claremont McKenna College and returned to the California campus this fall as a freshman. At that time, he found that everyone had changed, and he could no longer count on the same friends.

“People went back to college thinking they had all these groups of friends,” he said, adding, “But now you’re a lot different people and two years older.”

He said there was a break in communication.

Students ask for help. More than 9,000 people have signed a petition calling for more mental health services at Saint Louis University. The student government at West Virginia University is asking for state assistance. The Domanico family started a foundation in Eric’s memory. “A year from now we will find out that we have a lot of children with these problems, and we will not know what to do,” Domanico said.

At Yale, alumni, family, and friends of Rachel Shaw founded Elis for Rachael, in an effort to influence the university’s mental health policies. Her mother, Pamela Shaw, said in a phone call from Anchorage that the pandemic had pushed her over the edge. She tried to convince her daughter to take a gap year until the epidemic subsided. “It’s not what college looks like,” she told her.

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