Moving Through: Tracking PhD students’ experiences of COVID
SPARC 2022 Poster Number 2
The World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that COVID-19 could negatively affect mental health. This was mainly due to governmental mandated safety measures of self-isolation, quarantine and social distancing. Current trends from 2020-2021 show an increase in loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, domestic violence, alcohol, and substance abuse.
This research intended to investigate mental health experiences of PhD students, however interview findings of the first year suggested that COVID-19 affected the daily life and mental health of PhD students at two Manchester universities; University of Salford and University of Manchester. Students reported experiencing feeling disconnected from others, feelings of isolation, lower mental health, decreased well-being, and challenges to work life balance. Work was transferred from university offices during office hours to the endless day of working at home and well into the night. The same students were interviewed a year later. These students found the second year much easier as restrictions, including social isolation and working from home were lifted. These students felt more positive and happier as they were reunited with family and friends. It seems like the COVID situation is starting to wane and social contact is returning to pre-COVID levels. These students will be interviewed a final time to gather further experiences and themes. The PhD journey itself is being highlighted, as the focus is not solely on the pandemic. Resilience, renewed coping strategies and the “hybrid lifestyle” of using a combination of home, office and online platforms has been reflected as emerging themes.