COVID-19 pandemic: the negative impact on students’ mental health

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit hard in early March 2020, students have had to face a myriad of unprecedented challenges.

We know that even in normal times, up to one in three students experience clinical levels of psychological distress during their academic studies. This can lead to negative social outcomes, academic difficulties, and potential dropout.

Sadly, 52% of 4,193 respondents to a survey conducted by the National Union for Students in November said that their mental health had worsened since the start of the pandemic. Similarly, a polling of over 2,000 students by the Office for National Statistics in the same month found that students are more anxious than the general population.


Why is this happening?

There are many factors having a negative impact on student mental health during the pandemic. Many students are experiencing financial difficulties, expounded by the cost of rent for accommodation they are currently unable to return to.

Others do not have access to the digital equipment or working space required to complete their studies from home. Some students will be in unsafe living spaces and others are facing isolation, unable to meet their course mates face-to-face and to partake in the rich variety of extracurricular activities that make up the standard university experience.

Sadly, many students will have experienced bereavement over recent months too.

Certain groups of students have been particularly impacted, with a study by the University of Oxford and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine showing that BAME communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Additionally, those who will soon be graduating and those who have graduated in the past year face an uncertain and competitive job market. Meanwhile, those who will be starting university in the few years have experienced significant disruption to their schooling and assessments.


How can we help?

One way we can help is by supporting institutions to ensure that both preventative measures are taken, and that appropriate support is available for all those who need it – this is more important now than ever.

To this end, we are working hard this year to find a way for students’ voices to be heard and for them to be empowered to talk about their struggles and moreover, to play a key role in implementing preventive measures within their institutions. We will have news for you on a new project we will be supporting to enable this to happen in early March.

Like many funding organisations, we look towards an uncertain future over the months and years ahead, as usual funding routes continue to be cut off. Your support would help us to overcome the uncertainties of this time and take our vital aid in this area forwards.

If you’d like to donate to the Charlie Watkins Foundation and help fund our upcoming projects, you can visit our JustGiving page.


Paws for thought this January

Take on a challenge this new year and use your daily exercise to take part in our ‘Paws for thought’ sponsorship challenge. January is #WalkYourDogMonth – so we are challenging you to take time out of your day to explore your local walking areas to see how many steps your furry friends can take while raising much-needed funds for the Charlie Watkins Foundation!

You can take part for just one day, or even get involved every day for the rest of the month to make the most of your one-hour daily exercise. Not only will you be raising money to support those suffering with mental health, but getting outside will also improve your own mental wellbeing.

You can use your own fitness tracker (such as your smart watch, a Fitbit, the Strava app or the iPhone Health app) to count your steps and then double it to track your dog’s progress.

The Charlie Watkins Foundation has been formed to receive funds in memory of Charlie Watkins who at 22-years-old, took his own life in March 2017.

One in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. However, it is still a taboo when it comes to talking about it and seeking help.

The crisis in mental health among young adults and the impact of the necessary restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic has seen an exponential growth in mental health issues; in particular, for young people and students across the country.

For those already struggling, COVID-19 has intensified these feelings and for those who have not previously experienced anxiety or depression, it has been a strange and very worrying time.

All this at a time when raising funds presents its own very real challenges and our support is needed more than ever.

Help your dog to become a Charlie Watkins Foundation fundraising hero and make sure you share your photos with us on Twitter and Facebook!

Don’t have a dog? You can still take part and be one of our fundraising heroes! Why not ask family and friends to sponsor your daily walk?


Please donate and share this link with your family and friends on social media and get them to sponsor your four-legged friends!