The mental health of students damaged by confinements

Once again deprived of lessons and social relations, worried about their future, the students are particularly weakened by the re-containment, which could undermine their morale and their health as well as exacerbate their psychological problems, worry doctors.

This new confinement, Marion (her first name has been changed), 24, sees it as an injustice.

“We, students, are the only ones with the elderly who have no reason to leave our home. I see my parents still going to work, my cousins ​​going to high school, and I feel super isolated”, confides this student in the last year of a master’s degree from a large school.

Life came to a standstill for her with the introduction of the curfew. “No more parties, no more sport, nothing …” Then the new confinement decreed to stem the second wave of the Covid-19 epidemic sounded the death knell for face-to-face classes, which had sometimes only resumed. dotted, in higher education.

“During the first confinement, we all connected together with my class, but this time not at all. We feel that everyone is a bit at the end of the line,” she breathes.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced the creation of 1,600 student jobs so that each university residence has two referents. Objective stated: to avoid the isolation of students, detect situations of discomfort and direct them to the competent services.

Since the start of the school year, requests for support have been pouring in. “The system is already stuck in normal times, but at the moment it is downright saturated”, warns Dominique Montchablon, psychiatrist, head of department of the Foundation for student health in France.

According to her, physical distancing and distance education have started a factor of resilience essential to this age group: the “group identity”.

The student population is currently faced with a combination of stressors, she continues: worries for their health or that of their loved ones, family tensions when they have had to return to live with their parents, a feeling of loneliness when, in Conversely, they confined themselves alone. All this to add to the fears for their studies and their future …

– “Resignation” –

During the first confinement, nearly one in three students (31%) showed signs of psychological distress, according to a recent study by the Observatory of Student Life (OVE). Foreign students and students in financial difficulty appeared particularly fragile.

“The health situation coupled with a desocialization and dropping out of studies have caused anxiety symptoms to emerge,” observes Emmanuel Weiss, chief doctor of a university psychological aid office (Bapu) in Paris.

Since September, the number of calls and requests for support has doubled, he adds.

“The students are part of the populations very hard hit by the first confinement and they are again with the second”, says Nicolas Franck, psychiatrist at the Le Vinatier center (in Lyon) and author of “Covid-19 and psychological distress – 2020, the odyssey of confinement “(Odile Jacob).

“They often live alone, in small areas, are deprived of friendly ties and sometimes in great precariousness”, he notes.

Unlike the first confinement, Jules (first name changed), 24, did not return to live with his parents in the south of France.

“I stayed in Paris with two roommates and I told myself that I would try to continue living despite all the constraints,” he explains.

Just graduated from ESCP (a business school), he chose to continue his studies by registering for a master’s degree in philosophy to take the time to think about what he really wanted to do.

“Before, we were sure to find a job right away when I left school, now there are a lot more uncertainties for the future”.

If the first confinement was a “shock” and he “panicked” for himself and his family after catching the Covid, he is living the current period with a form of “resignation” and “weariness”. But still remain optimistic: “I have no doubt that the life before will be able to return one day”.

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