Students struggle with mental health

In an Old Gold & Black survey, students tended to rate their mental health low on a 1-10 scale


Of the students surveyed, none rated their mental health above a seven on a scale of one to ten. Seventy-eight percent of students cited isolation and quarantine as major sources of stress.

Aine Pierre, News Editor

After two weeks of modified Orange status, rising COVID-19 case numbers and a near-constant cycle of rumors, miscommunication and anger, mental health on campus seems to be in a precarious spot, according to a new Old Gold & Black survey.

The survey, which polled 25 Wake Forest students about the state of their mental wellbeing, was conducted between Feb. 23 and 24. Freshmen made up 44% of the sample; sophomores and seniors both made up 24% and juniors made up the remaining 8%. No graduate students responded to the survey.

The survey asked respondents to rate the quality of their mental health on a one-through-ten scale, with ten being great and one being awful.

Of those polled, 52% rated themselves below a five, and 36% rated themselves above a five (fives made up 12% of the answer pool). No respondents rated their mental health above a seven.

“To be blunt, [mental health is] not good, at least for myself and the people I spend my time with,” said freshman Caroline Parrish. “It’s difficult to find places to spend time with friends (especially if the weather is bad), and being completely alone for days at a time feels like punishment for a crime I didn’t commit.”

According to the survey, isolation and quarantine were major sources of stress, with approximately 78% of students identifying them as major stressors.

“While at the quarantine hotel, I barely received calls or anything from the university and no one asked about my mental health,” said sophomore Charlotte Lanier.

Another major source of stress for students were classes and workload, being identified by approximately 48% and 44% of respondents, respectively.

“We are all having a hard time balancing the stress of school [and] high expectations from professors even during such a stressful time,” one junior, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

Notably, only 11% of respondents named fear of getting COVID-19 as a major stressor.

Students have also had mixed reviews on the university’s programs to improve mental health. A freshman, who asked to remain anonymous, named the university’s wellness meetings as something that helped them improve their mental health.

On the university’s behalf, the administration has been trying to assuage student concerns about mental health through the use of daily stories, events on Manchester Plaza and by attempting to improve the understaffed counseling center.

“It’s a huge pressure on students; it’s a huge pressure on everyone,” said President Nathan Hatch. “People have been working 18 hours a day and weekends: it’s the whole community. I think we need to help each other … I would encourage students [to take time off and support friends].”

Overall, though, respondents are asking for just a little bit more help.

“A lot of students are struggling right now,” said senior Samantha Horowitz. “Wake [Forest] needs to prioritize students’ concerns about mental health and listen to what they need.”