The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in constant shutdowns, mandates and limitations. It also brought many people, including American college students, to their breaking points. Young adults saw their mental health decline as the pandemic progressed on, according to a BMC Psychology report.
College students were stuck at home, forced to manage new learning styles and online workloads. Under these conditions, it was common for students to feel alone. In 2020, a nationwide survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 25% of people ages 18 to 24 had considered suicide in June of that year.
Students participating in another survey that year by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) reported that three-quarters of students nationwide were coping with depression, anxiety, and stress.
At Loyola Marymount University, the pandemic and lockdown forced students to move off campus within a week of returning from 2020 spring break. This sudden change left many LMU students academically and emotionally confused and desperate for some guidance from the university. The campus’ student psychological services (SPS) was inundated with requests as the office attempted to handle the lockdown, remote learning and new wave of concerned students.
“Telehealth (online) appointments were added to services,” said Angie Perez, the manager of the LMU SPS department. SPS provide online therapy sessions for students and online mental health consultations to parents, staff, and faculty. After returning to campus, the office began offering in-person groups and workshops.
“SPS is constantly updating our website with additional information like finding the right therapist for you, telehealth resources and psychiatry referrals for the students,” Perez said.
Vikki Geronimo, an LMU sophomore, struggled with her mental health during the lockdown. “(I) experienced a true major depressive episode, and I felt like it was never going to end because everything was so unknown.”
Geronimo had no clue where to get proper help. She decided to reach out to SPS services at LMU after coming to campus in fall 2021.
“I was only able to do a few sessions because they cover only a very small amount of mental health services,” said Geronimo. “I had to seek out my own therapy services at a much higher cost, after feeling like I did not get quality therapy at all from LMU SPS.”
According to Perez, “SPS is always impacted each academic semester with requests for services. SPS has been even more impacted this academic year due to the pandemic, which has caused us to have a waiting list for students to get therapy.”
SPS’s waiting list has caused issues within the LMU student community. “I know a lot of my friends have had to wait months in order to see a counselor,” Geronimo said. “One of my friends even forgot she had signed up for the waitlist once she got the email that she was off it. That’s how long the list can be.”
Tanya Edquist, a university sophomore, had a different experience. “My experience with LMU psych services was honestly not that bad,” Edquist said. “I had to wait around one to two weeks for an appointment and the staff was relatively quick in getting back to me. I loved my therapist and she was very kind and understanding.”
Edquist attended just a few sessions because her schedule was too busy to accommodate more time. “I do think that LMU SPS is doing everything they can to help students. I highly recommend checking it out.”
Students can make an appointment with SPS by calling (310) 338-2868 or by visiting the office on the second floor, north side of Burns Recreation Center.