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Editorial: OU needs to better address mental health during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted college life in practically every way, and Ohio University students are no exception to that. 

As the pandemic continues, students are being forced to adapt to Zoom classes, teach themselves course material and deal with the pain of being away from friends and classmates. Not only are students attempting to balance all of this while being confined to their homes and bedrooms, but they’re expected to stay sane while doing so. In the midst of these circumstances, it seems the mental health of students has been pushed to the backburner, and OU hasn’t been doing much to combat that. 

Yeah, going to school from home means you can roll out of bed and go to class in your pajamas, but it also means you’re working in the same place that you eat, sleep and relax. The joy of classrooms is it gives students an environment strictly for learning, and COVID-19 has taken that away. That loss and the grueling task of completing assignment after assignment in your bed can be mentally fatiguing. Working from home causes you to feel like you’re never actually turning off or taking a break from schoolwork. 

It’s also hard to feel like OU genuinely cares about how COVID-19 is affecting its students when it sends out mass automated text messages. These texts include brief surveys asking students to rate their experience with virtual learning, but there’s no real substance behind them. A student might reply saying they’re having a horrible time adjusting to online classes and merely receive a computer-generated response of “Thanks for the feedback!” 

Where’s the human connection? How are these surveys benefitting us? Receiving a pre-written message doesn’t seem like the university is actually listening to its students’ concerns. The last thing students want to do right now is answer a survey that will have no concrete effect on their current situation. We are individuals who deserve a real response from a university that claims it’s doing its best during these unprecedented times. 

While the university tries to keep students informed by sending out weekly emails with updates on COVID-19 in Athens, it’s mentally exhausting to read about how progress is being made, yet, as an individual, it feels like the school year gets harder and harder as the semester goes on. And who’s checking in on our mental state? Not the university, that’s for sure.

This is not to say that university provided-resources, like the Counseling and Psychological Services aren’t doing their jobs. Rather, OU does a poor job of marketing them. The circumstances facing Ohio University students are extraordinary, and such circumstances require an extraordinary response from the school. 

The COVID-19 crisis has students facing thoughts and feelings they have never experienced before. Many of our peers, including some of us at The Post, have been left isolated and tasked with shouldering the burden of OU’s decisions. 

To any university administrators that are reading this: Your students are suffering. Those included in phase two return to a shell of what their school once was, and those left out get to watch in envy — continuing their tumultuous semester at home while still paying full tuition. Bobcats in both groups need help.

And lastly, to any students who are reading this: Your feelings are valid. It’s OK to not be OK. The past few months have been traumatic and frustrating, complicated further by a school that attempts to assuage your pain with robo-texts and poorly-worded emails. We’re in this fight together. You’re not alone. 

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Post's executive editors: Editor-in-Chief Molly Schramm, Managing Editor Baylee DeMuth and Digital Managing Editor Matthew Geiger. Post editorials are independent of the publication's news coverage.

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