Survey shows nine out of 10 faculty members think students’ mental health has worsened during the pandemic

Now that we’re more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, experts are beginning to assess the toll it has taken on the country. 

According to a new survey of nearly 1,700 faculty members at 12 colleges and universities nationwide, it’s been devastating to the mental health of students, with nine out of ten saying their students’ mental and behavioral health has worsened during the pandemic. 

The survey, organized by The Boston University School of Public Health, the Mary Christie Foundation and the Healthy Minds Network, looked at students through the lenses of their teachers. It found 87% of those polled believe that student mental health has “worsened” or “significantly worsened” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Almost 80% of respondents have had “one-on-one phone, video, or email conversations with students in
the past 12 months regarding student mental health and wellness,” prompting 61% to say it should be mandatory that people in their profession receive “basic training” in dealing with such student issues. 

The poll found only 51% reported they could recognize if a student is in emotional or mental distress; even fewer, 29%, say they could recognize if a student shows signs of substance abuse/misuse.

Considering this, it’s no surprise that 21% of faculty members polled said supporting students in mental and emotional distress has taken a toll on their own mental health, with close to half saying their institution should invest more in supporting faculty mental health and well-being.

With 2020 also being a year of racial upheaval, that’s taken a toll on mental health as well. The survey found 25% of faculty saying their institution is “hostile” or “somewhat hostile” toward students of color.