Navigating Mental Health Challenges: A Look at the Transition from High School to University

By: Justin Shin

As we navigate the tail end of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new class is arriving at York University, bringing
with them a unique set of challenges as they transition from high school to university. The journey is not
just academic; it’s a psychological shift, marked by pressures, uncertainties, and, at times, struggles with
mental health. This visual exploration, captured through timecodes and interviews, sheds light on the
experiences of students at York University and the efforts made by the institution to support their
mental well-being.

The Initial Struggle: Online Learning

The transition from high school to university is never easy, but the added layer of online learning during
the pandemic intensified the challenges. A medium close-up shot captures York U students walking on
campus, highlighting the seemingly ordinary yet transformative nature of university life. However, as the
voiceover mentions, this transition was particularly challenging for many students.

Jordan, a York University student, reflects on the difficulties of online learning: “During the pandemic, it
was very hard for a lot of people to learn online. It takes a lot more, like, self-motivation, because there
are so many distractions when you’re on a computer, or at home especially.” The struggle was real, as
the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario reported that more than 70% of students faced
challenges with online learning.”

Jordan Lee, York University Student

In an era where physical classrooms and face-to-face interactions were replaced by virtual spaces,
students found it hard to establish proper study habits and routines. Jordan emphasizes, “to really get
an experience of how to take notes, how to do a proper test, so for sure, I think online learning was a
struggle for many people.”

Mental Health Impacts: Beyond Academics

The impact of this academic struggle extended beyond exams and assignments. The article delves into
the mental health aspects, showcasing interviews with students like Aiden Mohammed, who admits,
“It’s affected my mental health a bit because it’s been a transition. Going from like, a structured high
school routine to having to be an adult, and looking out for yourself, like in college or university.

Aiden Mohammed, York University Student

Psychologist Julie Yoo adds depth to this narrative, stating, “The
COVID-19 pandemic really hit a lot of students hard. With transitioning to online learning, having
nobody to really talk to, not only have these students felt pressure from online school but have also felt
isolated due to the lack of in-person schooling.”

The extreme wide shot of an open area near York Lanes symbolizes the vastness of the challenges faced by students as they navigate this new chapter. The struggles are not just academic; they are deeply personal and impact mental well-being.

University Support: A Beacon of Hope

York University acknowledges these challenges and has implemented various support systems for
students. The university offers services such as counselling, support groups, resources, strategies, events,
and workshops to address the mental health needs of its students. It’s a recognition that mental health
is a vital cornerstone of a university student’s journey.

A Call to Action for Mental Health Awareness

The visual journey through timecodes and interviews highlights the multifaceted
challenges faced by students transitioning from high school to university. It’s not just about academics;
it’s about mental health, resilience, and the ability to adapt to a changing academic landscape. As we
move forward, it’s crucial to recognize and address the mental health needs of students, ensuring that
universities continue to be places of growth, support, and well-being.

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