UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Social Science Research Institute’s Evidence-to-Impact Podcast returns for a third season with its 18th episode, “The Perfect Storm: College Students, Mental Health, and the Sense of Belonging on Campus.”
The podcast’s moderator, Michael Donovan, the associate director of the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative, spoke with Maithreyi Gopalan, assistant professor of education and public policy and Social Science Research Institute co-funded faculty member at Penn State, and Brett Scofield, associate director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Penn State and executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health.
The episode covers how COVID-19 has impacted college students seeking mental health services; the challenges for counselors and administrators working in university mental health centers; potential policy solutions to the crisis; and other things that have happened as a result of the pandemic, like changes in technology.
On the intersection of technology, mental health and the pandemic, Scofield noted, “We certainly, in March of 2020, had to pivot in very short notice to remote services for students. That was telephone, at first, and telehealth services and video conferencing platform services like Zoom, in order to meet student needs. … What we have found is it certainly is a way to be very adaptable and it’s a way to increase access for services.”
Scofield added, “Technology has helped us increase access for certain groups or certain people, but it has been a deterrent for others. So, for example, the LGBTQ+ community — certainly it’s well-known that telehealth services can be an increasingly desirable option for that community because it can create access, but there’s other students who it might serve as a deterrent, and they might not opt into telehealth at all, because that might be a barrier [to them].”
However, Gopalan noted, he is encouraged that college student mental health is receiving increased attention.
“It’s brought to national attention the fact that students, depression and anxiety have been through the roof; and also [the realization] that students might not be seeking or having access to the care that they need in colleges has really come to the fore,” said Gopalan.
Listen to the full episode here.
The Evidence-to-Impact Podcast focuses on conversations between Penn State researchers from varied disciplines and government partners from across the commonwealth about relevant policy issues like poverty, criminal justice, substance use, and healthcare. The discussions aim to bridge the gap between research insights and real-world solutions through the translation of complex evidence and data into real-world implications and impacts.
Episodes are made available for multiple platforms including Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Blubrry and more. Find previous episodes on the podcast’s website or follow the podcast on Twitter for updates.