6 Effects of COVID19 on Students’ Mental Health
The threat is the virus, not the people. – United Nations Human Rights
The year of the pandemic has been harsh on all of us. We have experienced a total flip of life with norms of social distancing and quarantine. With all public places being shut down for a long time including public transportation, life almost came to a standstill for all of us. One of the major impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was on the mental health of the students.
A study conducted by Texas A&M University on 195 students revealed that 71% of them experienced anxiety due to COVID outbreak. In the Gallup Panel Polling of parents with school-aged children, it was found that 29% of the parents reported that their child is ‘experiencing harm’ due to the social distancing norms.
New York Times published that the pandemic has not only prevented students from attending schools but also has distanced 55 million children in America from school staff members who could help them with compassionate advice, build their self-esteem, and help them cope up with stress, depression and trauma they face because of the pressure of adolescence.
Depression and Anxiety
The year of the pandemic has been quite unpredictable for the students. Being socially distant from their friends and family members have made them more frustrated, depressed and anxious. They have no place to go out and socialise which is generally an outlet for the students for all their stress and overwhelming thoughts. College campuses and schools are the places where students get a chance to connect with others and make friends. But, with all that not being possible due to the pandemic, students are feeling quite alone at home.
Being at home all the time and maintaining a routine is tough. It requires a lot of motivation and self-discipline which many students might lack. Earlier students had an agenda every day that they have to go to school or college and study. They used to get a favourable environment for that. Being at home, they have to create such an environment for themselves. Whether it be studying, exercising, meditating, reading or any other activities, they have to perform everything at the same place, in the same environment. This could be quite a challenge for them.
Concern and Worry
Many students especially those who have vulnerable family members or friends experience fear and worry about their health. Students who have a health worker in their family worry because of their increased exposure to the virus. Many students get concerned about their older grandparents or family members who were already suffering from a disease. We all panic when it comes to our close ones, and so do the students.
Home is a distractive environment for students. Especially when all the family members are at home together, it becomes difficult to find a quiet space for yourself where you can study or just sit and relax. Being at home, students have to perform household chores at times or are constantly interrupted by family members like younger siblings during their online classes. Moreover, being exposed to the internet makes it much difficult for them to concentrate on their studies because of social media, video games and numerous mobile and web applications.
Monotony and Boredom
Being at home all the time, following the same routine every day makes you feel bored and lethargic. Many times students have no fixed sleeping pattern. Some days they stay up late at night watching movies or browsing the internet, wake up late in the morning, miss online classes. All this disrupts their concentration levels, lowers their enthusiasm and confidence. Many times they feel bored and hence are less productive throughout their days.
The pandemic has increased the physical distance amongst all but many have created an emotional distance between each other because of the pandemic. Students often feel alone and isolated during the pandemic because they cannot meet their friends. Although nowadays, being connected with someone is easy through phone, messaging and video calls, students often have lost connection with many of their friends. They often feel hopeless and powerless in this period because they do not know what is going to happen next or when our lives will be back to normal. This also results in the feeling of insecurity and uncertainty amongst the students.
Staying together is crucial in these tough times for better mental health
We might not be able to break the social distancing norms for some time, yet we can stay together with the students and make this a better time for them. Students must be taught to stay connected with their families and friends. They can decide on a group video call at least once a week, send pictures of their routine to each other and keep each other informed of their mental and physical health.
Schools and colleges should also take initiatives in connecting the students with each other. For instance, organizing class projects or assignments in a group so that students find a chance to interact with each other. Organizing discussions and interactive sessions amongst the students is also a great idea to help them connect and keep their mind away from the stress of the pandemic. Students may also seek online homework help together and stay connected during this time.
Parents and family members also have a role to play to support students during these tough times. Parents must take note of their child’s behavior at home, especially those who have young children or teenagers. If your child is acting more withdrawn or in a low mood, you must try and talk them out of it. Take note of their sleeping and eating patterns and take action as soon as you see a change. If your child is taking no interests in playing games or studying you must consider their school counsellor. You may also hire an online assignment helper to help your child cope up with their studies.
The times are tough, but so are we! Let’s stay connected in this and help the young minds of our society be strong enough to face the lifestyle changes and cope up with the pandemic environment.