The pandemic and lockdown have had an influence on every aspect of everyday life in the previous 18 months, from health to education, the economy to politics, and the environment to medical infrastructure.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on students’ and youths’ mental health and other connected concerns. They have been confined within the four walls of their home due to disruptions in their daily routine, limitations on movement, and the closure of schools and universities.
To top it all off, students taking online programs feel burdened and tortured, resulting in worsening of their mental health. Staying inside has harmed not just people’s mental health, but also their immune systems.
Pandemic and mental health
Several studies have been conducted to examine the impact of quarantine during previous epidemics, and it has been discovered that it has a negative influence on mental health, sometimes even culminating in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This strains the immune system, and students may develop eating and sleeping disorders or mental problems as a result. Restoring community spaces and reopening schools and universities should take precedence over reviving the country’s economy. Experts view it as a method to protect people’s well-being and aid in their recovery from a global health catastrophe.
According to a recent study at TISS, three-fourths of the population has mental health difficulties and needs basic level short-term intervention. Issues of mental health will be massive in the post-COVID World.
What is Mental Health?
A pandemic disrupts everyday routines, which has a severe impact on mental health. WHO defines mental health as‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’ (WHO, 1948, p. 100).
In other words, mental health is the existence of well-being rather than the absence of mental illness. Determinants of mental health and well-being are considered to be psychosocial, which means that certain psychological elements, such as anger, frustration, hopelessness, helplessness, fear, sadness, and so on, as well as certain social elements, such as lack of mobility, loss of social contacts, and lack of trust among residents, contribute to a loss of mental well-being among citizens.
Aside from their coursework, students learn a lot from their social surroundings. Children make friends at an early age, and they are drawn to them based on their behaviors, closeness in seating, and other reasons. As kids grow older, they develop friendships based on shared hobbies such as reading, sports, and games, playing, singing, and so on. They communicate regularly, exchanging ideas, sharing concerns, confirming their beliefs, exchanging gifts, and enjoying each other’s company. The pandemic prompted lockdowns, quarantines, and school and college closures. As a result, students are experiencing mental health concerns such as anxiety, stress, and sadness.
Overcoming Anxiety and depression
Anxiety can be defined as a fear of the unknown. Fear of contracting an illness, fear of the death of a relative, fear of online and offline classes, fear of tests being held either offline through a modified method of evaluation or online open book examinations, fear of failure, and many more concerns. The human thought process has a profound effect on a person’s emotions and behavior.
Negative thoughts cause negative emotions, and the mind responds by releasing negative chemicals throughout the body. They have a significant influence on a person’s physical well-being, and these substances frequently interfere with the proper functioning of vital organs. As a result, the individual suffering from anxiety and depression has mood swings, aggravating heart pounding, waves in the stomach, perspiration, loss of concentration, and attention deficit problems.
Students must use a few strategies to overcome anxiety and depression:
- Fix day schedule It should be fixed, and life must be regimented from the moment one gets out of bed to the time one returns to bed. The body operates in accordance with the body clock. A decent night’s sleep between 11 p.m. and 4 p.m. is required for everyone to live a healthy life. This order has been severely disturbed, particularly with the widespread use of social media and smartphones.
Being up at night and sleeping during the day will have an effect on one’s mental health over time. Students must realize that instead of allowing life to rule them, they must take charge of their lives.
- Ensure physical activities: Instead of focusing on online classes, assignments, examinations, and the marriage of lofty life objectives, the most important task in this pandemic period is to devote more time to physical activities. Outdoor games, indoor games, poetry, and studying and participating in a range of competitions such as cooking, baking, attempting new recipes, painting, singing, and several other activities.
- Downsize the information load: In India, around 35 million individuals used social media platforms. They are infested with negative information related to covid-19-related deaths, the failure of hour health infrastructure, the irresponsible behavior of public representatives, the apathy of rulers, the happening pictures of women carrying dead bodies of their men alone on their shoulders, and the chilling narrations of dead bodies floating in the Ganges.
As a result of the new normal, people experience rage, despair, hopelessness, and numbness. To enhance mental health, one must reduce the amount of information consumed and exercise self-control when using social media. It is more harmful than beneficial. Students unknowingly become entangled in a negative vortex of information, disinformation, half-truths, non-scientific knowledge, and conspiracy theories.
Adapting to a Post-Covid World
Students must learn new abilities. According to studies, younger children have forgotten 50% of their vocabulary. Students are confined to online theories in the absence of physical classes, laboratory sessions, outdoor studies, surveys, and field activities. As a result, when they are confronted with the actual world, their knowledge set will undoubtedly be deficient.
In the absence of solid knowledge and a broad understanding of the subject, a student’s skill set would be challenged in the future. The lockdown period must be used to acquire new skill sets. Digital lending has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Photo editing, digital marketing, improving communication skills, obtaining counseling abilities, learning new languages, accountancy, and tally, and other skills would be added feathers to the hat in the future.
How to fight negative thoughts and illusions?
Adversity has always played a game-changing role in people’s lives for them to reach greatness. Even for those born with a silver spoon, achieving greatness has always been a difficult endeavor. When there is one such difficulty in the mix, people who do not have a huge goal, big thinking, and a desire to conquer the mountaintop inevitably succumb to the sufferings imposed by adversities on their route to achievement.
On the other side, history is replete with examples of leaders who rose to prominence despite adversity. Turbulent times have produced colossal leaders, and so obstacles must be transformed into chances to ascend the ladder of leadership and success in the future.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, analyzed the lives of six U.S. presidents who led the country through major national crises in her book, Leadership in Turbulent Times.
For example, Franklin D. Roosevelt developed remarkable empathy as a result of his polio experience. He was able to connect with those who were in pain in ways that others could not. Franklin had tremendous humility, a trait that allowed him to recognize the potential in others while also appreciating his own talents and flaws, all of which are components of self-awareness. Despite suffering from debilitating depression, Goodwin suggests that his wit and sense of humor contributed to his ability to maintain his profession. Researchers now consider humor to be a component of creativity.
Students should learn to regulate their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in ways that result in positive outcomes and learning. Self-regulation is a term used by psychologists to describe this skill. We now know with certainty that the lockdown, pandemic, school and college closures and quarantine have altered psychology, sociology, economics, politics, and every other aspect of life.
Academics will be more difficult to reclaim, but they can be compensated for by having improved IQ, EQ, and SQ. Students who are motivated to beat the odds must develop the habit of living a purposeful life.
You are destined to grow big, reignite the spirit of resoluteness. You must be the light that dispels the gloom of hopelessness in your student’s community.