The sorrows and successes of the pandemic

Many students have felt a heavy weight on their mental health, while some have learned to blossom in the depths of isolation.

Kathryn Robinson, Reporter

In March of 2020, the world shut down in an instant, and life has not looked the same since. This has taken a toll on many students at Hamline. With the frigid temperatures of Minnesota winters, many students say they are struggling to even leave their dorm or house. 

Allyson Chromey, a first-year student, has felt the effect of isolation on her mental health. 

“The lack of social interaction really caused my mental health to go down,” Chromey said. “But because there wasn’t a social outlet or any in-person contact for so long, now that things are opening back up, I still just want to be alone.” 

Others echoed the same feelings of isolation and distance. Mohamed Shukri, a-first year student and class representative for Hamline Undergraduate Student Congress, has felt the effects of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has made me feel distant from everyone in my life, including my family,” Shukri said. “I constantly want to be alone.” 

With the frigid temperatures that have stayed in Minnesota for the past two weeks, isolation and loneliness have been a bigger problem. 

“It’s worse now that I can’t even go out because of the cold. It’s also worse that this semester I don’t live on campus and have day-to-day interactions with my friends,” Shukri said. 

However, not everyone has had a negative experience regarding the pandemic and this new normal. Without all of the social interactions and expectations, some have been able to work through their insecurities and become more comfortable with themselves.

First-year student Kate Kelley expressed that while her mental health has been affected by the pandemic, it has not necessarily been a bad thing. 

“When the pandemic hit, there was a lot going on in my life,” Kelley said. “I was able to take a step back and reevaluate myself without the influence of society.”

Social isolation has made the majority of students uncomfortable and unhappy, yet Kelley felt the opposite. 

“Social isolation gave me the opportunity to take a step back and learn to love myself because I had to be alone,” said Kelley. “It also brought a lot of insecurities to the surface, and I was forced to deal with them head on.”

Regardless of if the pandemic has been good or bad for someone’s mental health, it is important to have strategies to use when a person’s mental health suffers. Even though it is difficult to physically be with others right now, students have still found spaces to connect with one another.

“I joined the track team to make new friends and it’s helped a lot,” Chromey said. “I also have been trying to reach out to people in my classes.”

“Quarantine has been a great time for me to set my own schedule and rhythm,” Kelley said. “I can finally go to bed when my body wants to and I can set my own schedule.”

 Listening to her body has been Kelley’s greatest success during the pandemic. 

“I can now exercise for myself, whenever I feel like exercising and do homework at my own pace,” Kelley said. 

When polled on Instagram, 84% of Hamline students that answered said that the pandemic and winter months have affected their mental health. These numbers are startling and demonstrate just how tough this year and last year have been on students. 

If you or someone you know is struggling, there is always help available. Hamline University offers mental health support through Counseling and Health Services. Appointments may be scheduled by calling 651-523-2204. Those with urgent needs can visit the Crisis Text Line for free 24/7 crisis counseling. Text HOME to 741741 to reach a crisis counselor