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The Impact of Online Classes on Students Mental Health

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Image by Madison Kopp

By Anna Birk, Copy Editor

Now that students have moved into the 2021-2022 academic year, Ohio University has returned to a full campus; students sprinting to classes, professors grabbing coffee and every coffee shop packed to the brim.

During the 2020-2021 academic year, Ohio University gave students the option to attend in-person, hybrid or fully online classes. This option was given based on a course-enrollment basis, with several classes maintaining an online status throughout the year. Even though the aura of campus is returning to normal, many class offerings remain online, bringing a sense of isolation to some students.

According to a June 2021 update by Be Safe Bobcats, an online portal to track information about the coronavirus pandemic, “A small number of courses will be delivered online or in a hybrid modality due to space restrictions,” but a specific number was not given.

It’s no stretch to say that students have suffered academically and mentally by the long list of online classes. For high school and college students alike, the inability to socialize in a classroom has taken a toll, exponentially dropping students’ mental health.

Kelly Maguire, a third-year student at Florida Gulf Coast University, told Health Central that “grief” best describes what many students are feeling at this time. “When we hear the word grief, we tend to think of the death of a loved one … on top of that, there’s the grief of losing your sense of normalcy, routine and social connections.”

Even though students may be back on campus, many are still isolated to their dorms or apartments, disrupting a normal college routine.

As a college student, an average routine involves walking to class and getting to know your peers within the course. While online, however, this routine is disturbed. Many students don’t know who their classmates are, let alone feel motivated to reach out to a professor to ask.

Skipping courses has taken on an entirely different meaning as well. Students may skip a course for various reasons: a busy schedule, illness, but most commonly, stress and anxiety. The latter often withholds students from attending a class, because of a slew of mental health concerns. Once the stress, anxiety and depression build up, attendance and keeping up with school work is often one of the hardest things to do. Now, with online school, skipping classes in-person may not be an option for some, but attention is hardly focused on the online courses.

Active Minds conducted a study of over 3,000 young students in 2020 and found that every eight out of ten students were struggling with focus on school work. Furthermore, 20% of college students say that their mental health has worsened since the start of the pandemic.

The world is righting itself through an upside-down time, and even though there are still struggles, students remain hopeful. In the same Active Minds study it was found that nearly 70% of college students are maintaining hope about the future.

Resources exist on each campus to help students through their mental health concerns. At Ohio University, students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services by calling 740-593-1616. The National Suicide Prevention hotline phone number is 800-273-8255. On campus, going to a coffee shop, the library, or on-campus buildings can help students feel less isolated. Professors and other trusted people are oftentimes available to sit down to talk as well.

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