Student Reflections

Student Reflections
This article was written by Taraki’s University well-being coordinator, Caren Kaur, and is based off her work directly with students in supporting and maintaining well-being.

The Covid-19 pandemic restrictions mean that there have been drastic changes in the way that universities have been operating and the way students have been continuing with their studies. This has resulted in significant effects on the day to day lives of students and consequently, the mental health of many students has been negatively impacted.

Large groups of students have been forced to isolate. Universities have enforced rules using controversial methods such as the metal fencing at The University of Manchester which resulted in the university being likened to a prison (1). The mental health charity Mind conducted a survey which reported that 73% of students had worsened mental health during the lockdown (2). In addition, the National Union of Students issued a mental health warning and called for urgent action to be taken over student suicides (3). The number of students who have committed suicide has increased to at least one per week (4) as students struggle with their mental health.  

Systemic racism has resulted in people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups having higher covid-19 infection rates and also higher covid-19 death rates (5). Public Health England reported that ‘People of Chinese, Indian, Pakistani, Other Asian, Black Caribbean and Other Black ethnicity had between 10% and 50% higher risk of death when compared to White British.’ (6). This clearly demonstrates the need for more work to be done to focus on reducing the risk of Covid-19 in these communities.

What have students said?

We decided to ask some students from Punjabi communities how the lockdown due to Covid-19 has affected their mental health. Many students have encountered challenges living in a national lockdown and have struggled to maintain positive mental wellbeing. One particular aspect which a large majority of students have found challenging has been the lack of social contact. This has been expressed by one student who explained;

‘I find it challenging being alone and not knowing how my family are, and not being able to check up on them to see if they are okay’.

Students at universities have been restricted to socialising with only people in their area of accommodation classed as their ‘household’. This has meant students are feeling isolated and disconnected from family, especially when their studies require face to face contact and they live far away from their family homes.

Contrastingly, some students are able to learn from home and have moved back to their family homes. This has, however, meant they have been unable to socialise with their friends and as a result some have reported that they feel a lack of social support.

‘I live at home and it’s been really hard not seeing many friends in person …. We do video calls which helps but I still feel a bit disconnected … it’s also difficult that lockdown is happening when it’s getting darker and colder whilst having to deal with uni at the same time and this can make me feel a bit low sometimes’.

Covid-19 restrictions which ban contact with other households can make it difficult when students have poor relationships with their family members. In these situations, students have found that support bubbles have been essential for maintaining a positive mental wellbeing.

‘.. I know a lot of families have had problems that have been exacerbated due to the lockdown, which has had a massive toll on people’s mental health ..’

Students have also found it difficult to balance their work and still enjoy the social aspects of their student years. They have expressed that living and working in the same space has made it difficult to have a clear work/life balance which can result in a ‘lack of separation of work and social time’. Another concern which students have expressed is financial pressures placed on them during the pandemic. The closure of retail and leisure facilities which many students rely on for an income has created much stress. When asked about their concerns, one student said explained that

‘one problem is expenses – not being able to work but still paying for halls’.

Although some students have found that learning from home has been difficult, others have found that they have found more time to focus on their studies. They expressed that they now have extra time in the day as they no longer need to commute to lectures, with lectures being online. In addition, students find that travelling to get to lectures and go from university back home can be tiring. As a result, some students highlighted that they have more energy now that they can learn from home. Contrastingly, some students who have stayed living in their university accommodation with their peers have found motivation to study;

‘Living with my friends has made it easier as it motivates me to focus on my university work’.

Overall, the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted students in multiple ways. For some it has brought distinctive challenges across their lives, for others it has provided an opportunity to re-focus and re-calibrate. Overall, however, it is integral that we are able to offer these students holistic and meaningful support to ensure that they can best support themselves and those around them.

References Cited

1.       Robson, S., 2021. Manchester Uni Installs New Lockdown Fencing And Security Checks Around Campus. [online] Manchester Evening News. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 January 2021].

2. 2021. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 January 2021].

3.       BBC News. 2021. National Union Of Students Issue Covid Mental Health Warning. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 January 2021].

4.       The Tab. 2021. At Least One University Student Has Died Every Week Since The Start Of Term. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 January 2021].

5.       Office for National Statistics, Coronavirus (COVID-19) related deaths by ethnic group, England and Wales: 2 March 2020 to 10 April 2020.  Available at: https:// birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/articles/coronavirus relateddeathsbyethnicgroupenglandandwales/2march2020 to10april2020 [Accessed 2 January 2021].

6.       Public Health England. 2021. Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 2 January 2021].

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