Three out of four students at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) said they felt lonely as a result of the coronavirus, a recent survey conducted by the university’s student council found.
The survey, of which the results were published in De Morgen, also showed that four out of ten hide a serious psychological problem.
“These statistics show the impact of the coronavirus on our social life,” said Dennis Gelders, vice president of the KU Leuven Student Council.
“When restrictions on close contacts were imposed, several students said they were not chosen by their friends to join their social bubbles,” Els Brunfaut, students mental health policy officer at KU Leuven, added.
Although the government has relaxed certain coronavirus measures in the previous two months, many students are currently behind their desks working on school assignments or studying for exams.
A particularly worrying finding is that students are often not willing to seek help. “And we need to take this seriously. Young adulthood is a difficult period of transition, which can lead to serious psychological problems,” said Chantal Van Audenhove, director of LUCAS (Centre for Health Research and Consultancy) at KU Leuven.
KU Leuven has created additional means for students to ask for help, including student psychologists, a chatline and a sensitisation campaign.
However, these extra initiatives will not be sufficient, according to Kathleen Vleugels, coordinator of psychologists and psychiatrists at KU Leuven. “Not every student who feels lonely needs a psychologist. We need to make sure that students can spontaneously meet each other on campus, which is totally different from an organised walk during the lockdown,” she added.