While the world continues battling with the coronavirus, college health professionals are reporting a growing crisis among students struggling with corona blues. An expression combining “coronavirus” and “blues,” corona blues refers to the feeling of depression due to the social and economic consequences of the pandemic.
In search of more detail, Ewha Voice consulted the following two articles published by the Yale Daily News, the independent student newspaper at Yale University: “Students express disappointment, anger over Yale’s mental health services” and “Yale researchers create an app to study happiness.”
Yalies fight for their rights to receive mental health services
On March 25, the Yale Daily News reported how student communities called for action regarding the mental health care services on campus. Ever since the tragic incident of a freshman who recently ended her own life, Yale has been heavily engaged in providing services to help students maintain a healthy mental state.
Yale Mental Health and Counseling (MHC) has played a key role in supporting students with institutional help and setting up counseling services. However, students who reached out to the service expressed their disappointment over long waits, short appointments, and incomprehensive care problems pointed to a lack of adequate mental health resources.
Every single student the news interviewed complained about the long wait times. Two out of 10 reported that they have waited up to five weeks. Also, students reported that the appointments lasted for 30 to 45 minutes, which is a short amount of time to actively receive help.
Students have actively complained on social media about Yale’s failure to dedicate more resources as a means to alleviate students’ corona blues. Also, Students Unite Now (SUN), a student group standing up for the mental and financial aid of students at Yale, has demanded that MHC reduce the wait time to a maximum of two weeks.
Moreover, Walden Peer Counseling, an organization where Yale undergraduates trained by MHC provide anonymous peer counseling, has expressed that they are willing to take part as an alternative to the MHC.
The Happiness Project: An app to approach corona blues
Professor Robb Rutledge, an associate professor of Psychology, launched an app called “The Happiness Project” with his team of researchers in January. Users can play four different types of games in the app, which tracks their state of happiness. With the data gathered from the app, researchers and neuroscientists are able to figure out how certain factors affect the way people feel.
The games also present users with questions about mental health topics such as how many hours of sleep they have had and how they are feeling today. By comparing the answers of the users, Rutledge and his team are able to better understand what triggers corona blues.
In an interview Ewha Voice conducted with Rutledge, he shared his story of why he started the project in the first place. In order to understand how happiness works, it is necessary to understand how it works for individuals. Rutledge and his team figured that playing games on smart phones is a fun way for people around the world to naturally contribute to the research of happiness. At the same time, through the app, people can get a glimpse of what psychological research is like and also learn about the science of happiness.
Rutledge confirmed that about 15,000 people have downloaded the app in more than 100 countries.
“The pandemic has increased anxiety and depression in a lot of places,” Rutledge said. “We hope that we can use the app to better understand how the pandemic has impacted both the decisions that people make and how happy they feel as a result of those decisions. We can look at how happiness is different in different places and how it changes this year as more and more people get vaccinated.”
Rutledge hopes the app can further provide information about the ways the pandemic has affected people. Observing the various attitudes people have about uncertainty or their expectations of the future can lead to explaining why some people have been impacted more by the pandemic than others.