Behind the mask

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For her final project in Journalism 410, Samantha Sebestyen produced a video, “Behind the mask,” documenting how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced almost every aspect of students’ lives. Among her peers, she saw mental health issues rise because of the many months of isolation and the additional layers of stress that negatively affected already chaotic lifestyles.

“In the past two years, college students have had to deal with the pandemic on top of continuing their education,” Sebestyen said. “On the campus of Michigan State University, a school that went fully online for two and a half semesters and has ever changing COVID policies, students still work to find that balance between working and keeping their mental health in mind.”

“Throughout the course of a few weeks, I was able to discuss with several of my close peers to see exactly what they did when things took such a heavy toll on their mental and physical well beings,” she continued. “Even as the university transfers back to in-person and a more “normal” lifestyle, it is important to continue to keep mental health in mind.”

“Many of the problems did not simply go away when the school chose to move classes back in-person or to open up activities like sporting events and on campus fun. I seeked to find exactly what helps people to stay mentally healthy while also having conversations about exactly what the pandemic looked like for them. I wanted to demonstrate that despite all of the what-ifs, there are things that can act as constants in a rapidly changing world,” she said.