Resuming face to face learning and university students' mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic : a study in the transformative period

Yawen WENG (Presenter), Bowen ZHOU (Presenter)

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has forced online teaching and learning to be the primary instruction format in higher education globally. More specifically, universities‘ fast-paced move of teaching modes and the widespread adoption of digital technologies have resulted in significant challenges to students‘ mental health. In response to these challenges, the growing research has been designated to understand how university students‘ mental health can be impacted by online teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, whether students‘ mental health problems decrease when universities resume face-to-face teaching and learning has rarely been put under the spotlight. Drawing on interview data with 17 Hong Kong undergraduates (Year 3 and Year 4 only), this study examines undergraduates‘ mental health situation during the transition period from online to face-to-face teaching and learning in Hong Kong in Semester 1 of the academic year 2021/22; and also investigates the reasons that cause these mental health problems. Findings show that four major factors, including adaptation problems, deterioration of soft skills, career planning, and the quality of counseling services, are identified as causing mental health problems among Hong Kong undergraduate students. In this study, three main aspects, including the relationship between stakeholders, advocate professional development, mental support, and relevant activities, are recommended for improvement by universities in Hong Kong, thereby enhancing the mental health situation among students in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 3 Dec 2022
EventHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference: Health and Wellbeing in (Post-) Pandemic Times - Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China
Duration: 3 Dec 20223 Dec 2022
Conference number: 23


ConferenceHong Kong Sociological Association 23rd Annual Conference
CityHong Kong
OtherAs an unprecedented public health crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has become the focal concern of sociologists around the world. Globally, there have been over six hundred million confirmed cases, including over six million of deaths. Over the past few years, we have experienced the tremendous impacts brought by the pandemic on various domains of life. Apart from infected and death cases, we have seen a surge of mental health issues, suicides, domestic violence, as well as plummeting economic growth and escalating unemployment and poverty rates. Whether to embrace the “new normal” by easing public health and social distancing measures is a contentious issue as much among world leaders as ordinary citizens. From a sociological perspective, most impacts brought by the pandemic are believed to be structural and long lasting. As not everyone has equal access to vaccines, personal protective equipment, healthcare and other resources, health and social inequalities are expected to be worsening. There are also concerns about the lack of affordable childcare and technological equipment for attending online classes during pandemic times, which would have lingering effects on education, digital, and social inequalities across generations.

Against this background, this conference aims to address the pressing issues of health and wellbeing in pandemic and post-pandemic times from a sociological perspective. It provides a platform for scholars, students, and other stakeholders to discuss the implications of the pandemic for health and social inequalities among other issues. On that basis, participants will explore practical and policy responses to enhance health and wellbeing in the (post-)pandemic condition.
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