Courtesy: Global News
By: Matthew Chiu
You might remember the perks of being a high-school student.(Not a very newsy Lead. High school during Covid might not be fun.)Partying, hanging out with friends every day, enjoying what’s left of your childhood. Now fresh out of graduation, you may have wondered if high school and university are all too far apart. (Awkward phrasing) For second-year Waterloo student Alan Chen, the university experience hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations.
Chen spent his first year entirely online because of the pandemic and spent just three months in-person this year until concerns about the Omnicom variant forced students back to remote learning until February 28th.
“It obviously hasn’t been the experience university students imagined growing up. You dream of meeting new friends and really just getting that post-secondary experience, but constantly switching between in-person and online classes, and just not knowing what the future holds has made it really frustrating,” says Chen.
According to studies done at ‘Ontario’s Universities’, 65% of students report having overwhelming anxiety, 46% report being too depressed to fully function, and 14% have considered suicide at one point in their time at university.
According to MyCollegeSuccessStory, the main causes for student stress are family reasons, personal reasons, financial reasons, stressing about academics, and stressing about the future. (These are standard issues. Did Covid make them worse?)
The Waterloo Campus Wellness team admits they have seen the numbers and encourage students (needs elaboration) to use resources provided by the school on their website.
Video provided to Waterloo Students:
“We acknowledge these numbers are not where we want to be as a post-secondary institution. We know that COVID-19 has deeply effected everyone’s mental health. Our students health and safety in particular is priority number one, which is why we provide free access to tools such as counselors and therapy sessions on our website,” said by the Waterloo Campus Wellness team. (Very general. No details on what specific probems students having.)
Though helpful, this didn’t stop Chen from taking action on his end. With midterms quickly approaching, Chen really felt the stress and loneliness packing in on him, and he wasn’t alone. Peers around him expressed their negative feelings which gave him the idea to start a mental health club where others could vent and really have a platform to just let things out.
It was a bit of an awkward start for the club as it took a while for people to feel comfortable, but once they got going, the group never looked back. Now, the club has really expanded on focusing primarily mental health. They use their group sessions for different things such as tutoring, gaming sessions, etc.
“You know it’s no longer just this club about mental health. People are comfortable enough to vent to the rest of us, and that’s great because that’s why it was made. But we do other things such as watch movies, play games, homework, things like that,” Chen proudly explained. (We should hear from other students, besides Chen)
The club has never had an in-person meeting due to strict restrictions, but that hasn’t slowed down them down. They have solely relied on Discord, an app that is able to host every member in one big group call. The group has 27 members at the moment, and usually around 20 people are able to make each weekly call. Considering how busy a university student’s schedule can be, Chen considers the turnout to be a big success.
With multiple members of the club being in their final-year, Chen remains hopeful for an exciting, yet unclear future.
“Man, we’ve created too many bonds and memories for this to just be a one-year wonder type thing. It’s going to be difficult to try and replace some of those that are leaving, but I’ll do my damnedest to keep this club going until I at least graduate.” Chen confidently said.