“Corona blues” is a newly coined term originating from the outbreak of COVID-19 and people being restricted from outdoor activities. A combination of the words ‘coronavirus’ and ‘blues,’ it connotes the feeling of depression derived from the long-term quarantine and social distancing resulting from the disease. In order to overcome the anxiety and discomfort of this phenomenon, public institutions, universities and students are all putting in efforts.
According to the National Center for Mental Health, mental health counseling calls related to the coronavirus from the public have exceeded ten thousand as of March. The majority have complained about depression due to the lack of physical activity and communication with others.
One institution that has made efforts to address the problem is the Korean Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, which has announced the guidelines for societies dealing with infectious disease. Those guidelines stress the psychosocial roles and supports that are necessary from members of the local community, experts, government, and the media. The Korea Centers for Disease Control & Prevention also operates a free call center for psychological counseling to deal with this issue.
On campuses across the country, university students have been hit hard by the corona blues. Groups such as freshmen and international students have missed their first or only opportunity to enjoy on-campus life.
For Ewha students, the Student Counseling Center of Ewha is providing telephone counseling service to assist students suffering from psychological anxiety. It aims to offer counseling services to those who are feeling mentally uneasy and exhausted, and may even discuss difficulties regarding religious matters.
Oh Hea-young, the Director of the Student Counseling Center, explained how social distancing can cause depression. She mentioned that when people stay indoors for long periods of time, they feel incompetent due to the lack of ways to relieve stress on their own.
“In the case of university students, their anxiety level may increase as a result of the uncertainty about their future plans,” Oh said. “Since they are unable to organize and arrange their plans at the moment, this may evoke insecurity.”
Since various on-campus counseling activities have been cancelled, the Student Counseling Center plans to create news cards that will be uploaded on social media to deliver efficient ways to maintain a stable state of mind to students. Most of the content will be available online.
She also emphasized acceptance as the most important attitude to deal with the corona blues.
“Embracing the situation and coming up with ways to deal with the problem will help students alleviate their frustration,” Oh remarked. “Furthermore, we believe this is a time where students can also take time to reflect because it provides a sort of escape from daily life bombarded with assignments and managing their work experience.”
Enjoying hobbies and communicating with friends via social media are also several ways Oh suggested to cope with the current circumstances. Lastly, she encouraged students to use the telephone counseling service, because they could discuss the conflict one is facing by providing suggestions to maintain a stable mental condition.
Kim Yang-kyung, a junior from Gongju National University of Education shared her concerns regarding the corona blues. She is experiencing discomfort because of the inability to spend time outdoors and attend on-campus class.
“Moreover, teaching practicums are crucial for students majoring in the field of education,” Kim commented. “However, the quality of learning is not adequate as this practice is being substituted by assignments and online courses, which makes me doubt whether I am receiving proper instruction.”
To deal with the depression due to the extended period of quarantine, Kim is practicing home training by watching YouTube videos and spending time cleaning her room or exercising at the park near-by her residence.
“The anxiety related to school work can be resolved by interacting with friends at school,” Kim remarked. “We help each other out by comparing each other’s progress.”