“Today I feel completely overwhelmed. I feel like I’m in the famous movie “Groundhog Day”. The days are repeating themselves with the only difference being a half day of classes on Wednesday. Is it enough? Clearly not. Faced with a new situation, the government has opted for distance learning. However, studying in such conditions, risks strongly to undermine the profiles of the actors of tomorrow, that we are. Anxiety, stress, overwork are invading me. It is true that there are listening cells for students in distress, but the government has forgotten that we do not only need to talk; we also need action.” Zineb – architecture student.
This is the testimony of a student who is sounding the alarm after having endured isolation, anxiety, stress, or precariousness. All of them are linked or caused by distance learning.
Today, seven out of ten students are worried about their mental health.
These fears are justified, since, according to health professionals, approximately 75% of psychiatric vulnerabilities occur between the ages of 16 and 25. This is a pivotal period during which the major psychiatric pathologies appear. The latter would thus represent a category of the population particularly exposed and fragile to the effects of the health crisis.
A fact that is confirmed by researchers: a study carried out on people aged 18 to 24 during the British confinement reported a significant deterioration of their mental health, with nearly three quarters (73%) of the students reporting a declining mental health during the confinement.
Unsurprisingly, France is no exception to the rule. A survey conducted on mental health at the University of Paris 3 announces that 82.7% of students feel that their mental health has deteriorated this year, 74.7% of them think that the teaching conditions have something to do with it.
The mental health of students in France: in figures
A study by the National Resource and Resilience Center conducted on the population of students enrolled in university in France notes that :
- 22.4% of students suffer from severe distress.
- 24.7% suffer from severe perceived stress.
- 11.4% have suicidal thoughts.
- 27.5% suffer from severe anxiety.
- 16.1% suffer from severe depression.
- Pace of life: according to a study conducted by researchers in Pakistan, it would seem that changes in the pace of life, brought about by the health crisis, would partly explain this situation. Indeed, the peak in the use of communication tools and social networks observed since the first confinement, would have led to a deterioration of sleep habits (people sleep at much later hours than usual). A general increase in sleep duration as well as a general feeling of tiredness have been reported. A general lack of awareness of the day of the week and a change in the perception of the flow of time were also noted. (3)
- Precariousness: before the Covid-19 crisis, it was already estimated that 20% of the 2.7 million students in France were living below the poverty line. However, the situation has exploded in recent months: more and more students are facing significant financial difficulties. This increase would be positively correlated with the increase of anxiety and depression scores. (5)
In 2019, a national survey of the Mutuelle des étudiants (LMDE) pointed in particular to the fact that 42% of them renounce care at the psychological, including 40% for lack of financial means.
- Frustrations linked to the lack of social links: closure or restricted access to campuses, closure of restaurants, cultural places, sports halls.
- The need to adapt very quickly to a new work environment and new teaching methods.
- The great uncertainty about the future and one’s job prospects in a work world that seems to be changing and evolving in unexpected ways.
Psychological help resources available to students:
- Bureau d’Aide Psychologique Universitaire (BAPU): these are counseling centers for students who want psychological help, offering interviews and consultations.
- Fil santé jeunes (0 800 235 236, every day from 9am to 11pm) –
- Nightline: free night listening service. ( https://nightline.fr/ )
- Reimbursed psychiatric consultations: anyone between the ages of 16 and 25 can consult a psychiatrist directly, without a prescription from the attending physician. The health insurance will reimburse 70% of the consultation fee.
- Psychiatric vouchers: every student is entitled to 3 vouchers that give access to three free consultations, each lasting 45 minutes, with a psychologist or a psychiatrist. 3 steps to use a “psych voucher”:
Consult a general practitioner at your institution’s university health service or one that is approved by your institution. This doctor will determine the most appropriate treatment and will prescribe one or more sessions with a psychologist. Choose a psychologist or psychiatrist from a list that will be sent to you by the doctor. Make an appointment with the psychologist or psychiatrist you have chosen to see.
- Soutien-étudiant.info: this is a platform gathering several resources listed by the association Nightline.
- 7Cups: available in more than ten languages, it is a platform that offers an online chat to people who need to talk to someone. (https://www.7cups.com/ )
1-Amaker, Hyeouk “Chris” Hahm, Justin A. Chen10.1080/07448481.2020.1803882Journal of American College Health
2- Effects of COVID-19 on College Students! Mental Health in the United States: Interview Survey Study2020Journal of Medical Internet Research
3- Effects of COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on lifestyle and mental health of students: A retrospective study from Karachi,Pakistan2021Abraish Ali, Asad Ali Siddiqui, Muhammad Sameer Arshad, Fizza Iqbal, Taha Bin Arif10.1016/j.amp.2021.02.004Annales Médico- Psychologiques, Psychiatric Review.
5- Fieulaine, N., Apostolidis, T. & Olivetto, F. (2006). Precariousness and psychological disorders: the mediating effect of the temporal perspective [*]. Les Cahiers Internationaux de Psychologie Sociale, 4(4), 51-64. https://doi.org/10.3917/cips.072.0051
6- Amaker, Hyeouk “Chris” Hahm, Justin A. Chen10.1080/07448481.2020.1803882Journal of American College Health
7- Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on College Student Mental Health and Wellness2021William E. Copeland, Ellen McGinnis, Yang Bai, Zoe Adams, Hilary Nardone, Vinay Devadanam, Jeffrey Rettew, Jim J. Hudziak10.1016/ j.jaac.2020.08.466Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry