The Pandemic’s Effects on Student Mental Health at Montclair State

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Published October 3, 2021
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The Montclarion
Students practice yoga in the quad. John LaRosa | The Montclarion

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused mental health concerns for some Montclair State University students.

Jaclyn Friedman-Lombardo, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Montclair State, has seen a rise in students utilizing CAPS from the start of the fall semester.

“We’ve always been a really popular service,” Lombardo said. “Now that students are back, they are utilizing the services as they were before the pandemic and it has been very busy.”

Jaclyn Friedman-Lombardo said CAPS has been busy this semester. Erin Lawlor | The Montclarion

Jaclyn Friedman-Lombardo said CAPS has been busy this semester.
Erin Lawlor | The Montclarion

Lombardo explained that there have been several students calling because they are having difficulty adjusting or readjusting back to campus life. Many of the freshmen have to adjust from being in online high school to in-person classes along with college life.

CAPS made a program to help students called the readjustment group. It meets every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

“Originally, we were going to call it the adjustment group,” Lombardo said. “But then we realized we had so many students who are readjusting. They were here but now they’re back a year and a half later and need help readjusting.”

CAPS also has a program called Let’s Talk, which has similarly been popular since students have come back to campus.

Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell said he is working to improve CAPS to meet student needs.

“Vice President [Dawn] Soufleris and I have already talked about what we can do to make Counseling and Psychological Services more accessible, more visible [and] better prepared to meet the needs of the students,” Koppell said.

Alec Palumbo, a senior filmmaking major, is excited to finally be back on campus. Palumbo is six classes away from graduating and couldn’t be happier about finishing these classes in person with hands-on work.

“If anyone can go through college, it is our grade,” Palumbo said. “We were smack in the middle of it and then completely removed from it, so I think my mental health has increased plenty from being in quarantine to back on campus.”

Alec Palumbo said his mental health has improved since returning to campus. Erin Lawlor | The Montclarion

Alec Palumbo said his mental health has improved since returning to campus.
Erin Lawlor | The Montclarion

Palumbo turned to eating better and exercising regularly as healthy coping mechanisms and ways to practice self-care. This has helped him a lot after being stuck in a room staring at a Zoom screen all day.

Ilona Soltys, a junior communication and media arts major, has seen her mental health both decrease and increase since being back on campus this semester. She loves being surrounded by everyone on campus and finally seeing smiling faces, but that comes with a ton of stress.

“There is a lot of stress piled on,” Soltys said. “I’m worrying about a pandemic, about my family getting sick and about how I’m going to get to class. [I’m also worried about whether] I can juggle school while also working at the same time.”

Ilona Soltys said coming back to campus has been stressful. Erin Lawlor | The Montclarion

Ilona Soltys said coming back to campus has been stressful.
Erin Lawlor | The Montclarion

Soltys has found alternate ways to help cope with the stresses of being back on campus, including journaling, lighting candles and watching movies.

To find more information about CAPS and its services you can visit their website.

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