BY CYNTHIA BORROMEO
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER
Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck last March, the Cypress college Health Center has
seen an increase in mental health concerns as students struggle with virtual learning, social
isolation, and finding space in their homes to work. Students have felt a decline in the state of
their mental health since the pandemic began.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63 percent of 18- to-24-year-olds
reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with 25 percent reporting increased substance use to deal
with that stress and 25 percent saying they considered suicide.
The Health center has seen students come in for stress and anxiety caused by uncertainty. Students are experiencing mood changes
and a loss of connection.
“There is a lot of community on campus and students are not able to connect with their professors, classmates and
Staff,” Mental Health Counselor, Anna Spencer-Lonetti said.
The Health Center has seen an increase in mental health concerns since converting to
virtual platforms. Since the pandemic, it has been more difficult to connect with students. The
Health Center is trying to create more outreach and create more platforms for students to know
that there are resources available to them.
Lonetti said, “one of the hardest things is getting it out there for students to know they have these resources available for them” The Health Center has
free access to mental health services and to other certain health services like STD and blood
The College Health Center is a full service clinic, which means that services are provided by a Family Practice/Internal Medicine Physician, Certified Family Nurse
Practitioners, Registered Nurse, Psychologist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Almost all services are covered by student health fees.
The Health Center has created a wellness collaborative where they provide free meditation and yoga classes.
“We do have support groups like Wellness Wednesdays and Let’s Talk, we are trying to create more resources for students because we know that there is that
disconnect and they are in need of support right now,” said Lonetti “We are trying to educate students and bring awareness and trying to reduce the stigma so that they know it’s ok to reach out and talk about this.”
The Health Center is trying to reach out to students through health educators and promoting online health services. “We are all being affected by this including faculty and staff and whatever they are experiencing right now is normal.” The Health Center is helping students become aware of their feelings in order to help them understand mental illness and letting them know they are not alone.
According to Sarah Kaump, a Mindfulness 101 tutor at Cypress college, many students are also essential workers and struggling with mask and pandemic protocols and access to health care furthermore, many students and their families are suffering increased financial hardship and added responsibilities while balancing lack of childcare and facilitating remote learning for children in the home too. This all takes a toll on students who already are prone to mental health struggles.
“We should all show ourselves grace and understanding. This is hard, and it makes sense that it’s difficult and challenging,” said Kaump. “A Lot of students don’t realize they are experiencing stress and anxiety they will overthink, have trouble focusing, they can’t sleep and it’s all associated with the uncertainty that
is going on right now,” said Lonetti.
The pandemic has impacted students grades and ability to learn.
“I have had a lot of students who feel less motivated, disconnected and emotionally overwhelmed by the pandemic,” said Lonetti. “I try to connect them with resources to support them.”
Lonetti works with mindfulness strategies to help students be aware of how they are feeling. She tries to teach them strategies like breathing techniques, self care and encourages students to focus on the present and what they have control over.
Lonettit said, “There has been so much uncertainty over the last year that we don’t have control over and it is constantly shifting day to day especially if you watch social media and that alone creates anxiety and stress.”
Anxiety and depression has affected students’ mood. They are experiencing many emotions like personal grief and loss. “We are social beings and we want to connect and we feel better when we are connected to our family, friends, campus and community,” said Lonetti “as long as we are taking precautions and doing what we need to, this will pass.”
The health center is taking responsibility and working diligently to keep up with COVID guidelines. Lonetti said, “I think there will be many challenges for students and faculty resuming back to normal life when school resumes because it’s not going to go back to the normal we
The campus will have new changes in place. Students will encounter fears associated with COVID on campus and will have to adjust. “We are still going to see students
trying to adjust back to life on campus and we are going to need those mental health services to be ready and available for them,” said Lonetti.
The Cypress College Health Center is currently providing virtual service due to COVID-19. They will be available by phone to answer questions and provide referrals. The Cypress College Health Center Advice Line is (714) 484-7361.