Restrictions exacerbate mental problems. Interest in the counseling center is growing.

1. 3. 2021 -

Long-term restrictions, lack of social contacts, loss of motivation, but also anxiety and depression. All this has a negative effect during the ongoing pandemic of university students. Many of them have already sought the services of psychologists. The second wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, which has no end yet, is to blame. Only at Mendel University in Brno did the services of the counseling center in the field of psychological help double in the second half of 2020. According to several studies dealing with the deterioration of mental health caused by a coronavirus pandemic, university students, resp. young people aged 18 to 24 at risk.

Greater interest in psychological counseling did not manifest itself immediately with the onset of the pandemic. On the contrary, the sudden closure of the school, the ban on personal contact, and a complete change of regime led to a temporary decline in interest in counseling services in the spring of 2020. The increase in individual psychological counseling began to manifest itself gradually, especially in the second half of the year. "The number of registered clients in the second half of 2020 doubled compared to the same period of the previous year," said Alena Krejčí, head of the MENDELU Counseling and Career Center. Increased interest in psychological help continues even with the peak of winter, which is a critical period for many people. "We currently provide between 20 and 30 hours of individual psychological counseling per week," Krejčí added. And what problems do students turn to counsel most often? "The most common topics are lack of social contacts, pitfalls of distance learning, such as greater fatigue (digital fatigue), unfamiliar environment and classmates, fear of failed studies and the future, loss of motivation, crisis management. We can also name depression and anxiety, relationship problems, self-management and the organization of life, simply the impact of a pandemic on everyday life," said psychologist Zdeněk Hort.

Psychological services at Mendel University in Brno have been running online since spring 2020. During the summer holidays, when there was disintegration, students had the opportunity to use personal consultations. Although face-to-face counseling has undeniable advantages, online counseling allows for more flexible handling of working hours and offers clients consultation in the evening, for example. Thanks to the online form, it is possible to quickly share various links, texts, tests, and forms and work with them immediately. Online counseling has thus become a commonly offered and accepted service due to coronavirus. The counseling and professional center at MENDELU will offer distance counseling even after the end of the crisis. "Online counseling can be an attractive and affordable alternative, but we are still very much looking forward to personal consultations again," says psychologist Barbora Šímová.

The counseling center also offers many webinars and a new support group for students. "Last fall, we opened a regular online group called Let's talk, which is inspired by classic encounter groups and which is probably the only one of its kind in an online university environment. Together, we share various topics that students are currently addressing, such as how to prepare for exams or state exams with coronavirus, how to spend holidays without a family, how to self-manage, how to take care of yourself," says Zdeňka Hort.

MENDELU experts also offer online webinars focused on motivation, stress management, time management, self-training, and more. "We have made several videos and podcasts focused on relaxation and effective learning, which are available to everyone on the youtube channel of the MENDELU Counseling Center," adds Šímová.