Supporting Students’ Mental Health During a Pandemic

Supporting Students’ Mental Health During a Pandemic

JJC’s Student Wellness Advocates saw a major increase in the use of their mental health services during the pandemic. There was a 59% increase in appointments from fall 2019 to fall 2020, with the top mental health concerns being anxiety, depression and stress. They have served over 330 students with 970 appointments since March.

“The pandemic has forced our students into a world of drastic change, isolation, and ultimately loss and grief. The Student Wellness Program has worked immensely to adjust our services to continue providing the quality of care our students need during this pandemic,” said Student Wellness Advocate Jessica Contreras.

As remote appointments were provided, they sent out a survey to gauge student satisfaction, finding that 91% of students served were highly satisfied or satisfied with the help they received.

“I appreciate the support our program has received to be able to provide students a safe space during uncertain times. We will continue to support students in any capacity to help them be the best they can be as we move forward together,” Contreras said.

For Don Florante, a nursing student, the services provided by the Student Wellness Advocates had a large impact on keeping him focused on his classes and family. There was a chance that Florante’s mom would be diagnosed with cancer during the semester, and he didn’t feel as if he could talk to his family about the potential diagnosis.

“The mental health services allowed me to have a safe place to be vulnerable, seen and heard. I didn’t feel okay to go to my wife, as she is a nurse and manages the COVID unit at Silver Cross. I didn’t want to add any more stress about my school struggles. I didn’t want to talk to my mom, as I had to be strong for her and my sister,” said Florante.

Florante is a leader in the nursing program. He is a member of JJC’s Nursing Student Association and a
recipient of the Nursing Citizenship Award in 2020. The award is given to those that demonstrate outstanding qualities in the categories of attitude, academics, character, community service, and school spirit. He is also very involved in various charitable organizations in the community.

“The help from the wellness program enabled me to effectively cope, relieve stress and the constant worry, allowing me to get refocused on school during this time,” Florante said.


Staff writer for the Chicago Morning Star

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