As a result of the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak, many individuals are suffering from depression, anxiety and irritation. This is commonly referred to as the “Corona Blues.”
International students are no exception as being in a foreign country makes them even more vulnerable to psychological difficulties. With increasing voices calling for the need to tailor mental health support for international students, the Ewha Student Counseling Center (ESCC) took action into their own hands.
The ESCC has been providing an E-care program called Ewha Foreign Mental Health Scale (EFMHS), which was made for international students in 2018. Currently, EFMHS is provided through the Eureka portal in two foreign languages - English and Chinese.
Oh Hea-young, the director of the Ewha Student Counseling Center shared her insights on the program. She said that EFMHS is unique, compared to Ewha Mental Health Scale (EMHS), the assessment provided to Korean students.
“The questions in EFMHS deal more with the issues that international students can relate to and may have a hard time dealing with,” Oh said.
“For instance, while adjusting to their new life in Korea, international students may experience mental issues regarding their new drinking or eating habits.”
Taking into consideration the current COVID-19 pandemic, the EFMHS is now, according to Oh, hiring additional counselors to further develop and meet the needs of international students who are far from home.
“Due to the grave circumstances of COVID-19, international students lost chances to communicate with their friends in person,” Oh said. “We are trying to add more counseling sessions for international students by hiring an additional counselor here at the center.”
While currently many of the counselors for international students are only visiting counselors, the center plans to improve counseling services for international students by providing full-time counselors in the future.
“I hope that the international students are able to examine themselves through EFMHS,” Oh said. “In addition, on our website, there are many useful tips that can be applied to various different psychological situations. Hopefully, the students can take a look at those useful tips as the ESCC’s website is provided both in English and Chinese.”
International students are already trying the EFMHS. Wang Nan, a freshman majoring in the Division of International Studies, participated in the program this fall and found it helpful to analyze her psychological health.
Wang suggested that EFMHS could be more beneficial to international students with a few moderations such as more relevant suggestions and workshops according to the results of the assessment.
“It might be better if there were more psychological workshops provided in foreign languages for international students,” Nan said. “Foreign students at Ewha have their own personal problems due to the cultural differences.”
Nonetheless, with the program expanding, the impact of the assessment is already showing its impact on international students like Wang Nan who are reaching out for assistance.
“As the EFMHS and personal counselling are conducted in my own language now,” Nan said. “It helped me a lot to overcome my own issues.”
After the assessment, international students are provided with practical tips and suggestions. For instance, guidelines are given regarding what they should do to maintain or enhance their mental health, such as professional counseling and taking precise caution on certain things, which would have beneficial uses for international students in their everyday life.