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College students deal with loneliness, isolation during pandemic

With Thanksgiving approaching, students are asked to stay on campus instead of travel due to COVID-19.

DENVER — Usually, there are lots of things happening on a college campus. But, this year, the throngs of students and intermingling of minds are replaced by an emptiness outside and inside, according to Dr. Kristin Kushmider.

"I would say it's my job to make sure that we have the resources available to support our students on their journey to mental well-being," Kushmider said.

She is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health, Wellness, Advocacy, and Support at the University of Colorado-Denver. 

Kushmider said last year she did a health assessment of her students and it showed that 61% of them felt lonely or isolated. This year, with the pandemic, she said one national study shows that number increasing to 80% of students across the country.

"What concerns me the most about our students experiencing loneliness and isolation is that they could potentially lead to other mental health issues that are more significant," Kushmider said.

Now, students across the country are being asked not to travel home for Thanksgiving due to the increasing spread of COVID-19.

"I think that's something that's gonna affect all of us, not having the ability to be with our families over the holidays particularly for students who are staying on campus," Kushmider said.

CU-Denver is making sure programs continue over the holiday break to help students stay connected, Kushmider said. She said that the university has partnered with a new app called Nod to challenge students to find ways to be social.

"That app is specifically designed to address loneliness and isolation for young adults and college students," Kushmider said.

These are issues that are opposite of what's supposed to be happening on a college campus.

"Connection is so important," Kushmider said.

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