UNESCO estimates that over 1.5 billion students in 165 countries are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has forced the global academic community to explore news ways of teaching and learning, including distance and online education. This has proved challenging for both students and educators, who have to deal with the emotional, physical and economic difficulties posed by the illness while doing their part to help curb the spread of the virus.  The future is uncertain for everyone, particularly for millions of students scheduled to graduate this year who will face a world crippled economically by the pandemic. 

In this series, UNAI talks to students, educators and researchers in different parts of the world to find out how COVID-19 has affected them and how they are coping with the changes. The series also aims to highlight the lessons learned and potential positive outcomes of the global lockdown for higher education.

Dr. Michael Moore is an Assistant Professor of psychology at the Gordon F. Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies, of Adelphi University in New York. He spoke to UNAI about the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and explains how isolation and fear of getting sick can lead to avoidance behaviors, and for some individuals more severe anxiety disorders that affect their day to day life.

In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, students are experiencing an “epidemic of loneliness” in the absence of the school environments where they learn and receive social support. Dr. Moore’s advice for young people is to be compassionate and gentle with themselves during this unprecedented time. He also shares insights about how they can use social media to increase their productivity and the available options for teletherapy in the absence of in-person mental health services that are available on many college campuses.

Dr. Moore sees the pandemic as an opportunity for growth with people recognizing the importance of mental health, and a time for them to connect with each other and build a stronger sense of community. Listen to the full interview with Dr. Moore here.

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