Mental Health Concerns of Students in the Pandemic

“Don’t lose hope. When the sun goes down, the stars come out.”

We find ourselves at the aftermath of the second wave of the Pandemic. We have been through a lot from self isolation to disruptions in our daily routines, with work from home and online schooling for children becoming the new normal. 

Meanwhile, television and social media flashed horrific graphic facts and images of the dead and dying. Covid 19 related bereavements, grief, job losses and an uncertain future faced by so many resulted in frayed tempers, anxiety and depression at home which rubbed off on children as well. Concern for loved ones and self contracting the virus created fear and played havoc with emotions - staying healthy became another great stressor.

The second lockdown has brought with it more serious psychological problems affecting all age groups, especially children. Prolonged closure of schools not only upset school routines but children lost an important anchor in life as these temples of learning provide not only education but life skills and overall development for holistic learning. Not being able to go to school has had implications like:

  • time spent on online classes and self study has resulted in disturbed behavioral issues with too much screen time affecting the sleep cycle of children.
  • due to stringent social distancing policies and not being able to go out, children have become crotchety and irritable.
  • students who need extra support within the class may find it challenging to  understand new concepts while at home.
  • their class work not being checked regularly makes them feel less confident about what they have written.
  • during online classes, many students cannot be given much attention so they feel sidelined.
  • online learning has certainly affected a child s social development more than her/his cognitive development.

All stakeholders of Classes X and XII heaved a collective sigh of relief when the Board Examination was cancelled. However, this ‘euphoria’ may be short lived and premature- results and college admissions in India and abroad would be the next cause of concern. 

On the other hand, our teachers who have had to juggle both the home front and online classes and who have adapted brilliantly to the new mode of teaching, also face many stress related issues while conducting online classes.

  • they are stressed with the behavioral patterns of children some of who show signs of being obstinate and defiant in obeying the teachers’ instructions.
  • online teaching lacks the non verbal care that can be expressed in class with just a pat on the back or an approving smile.
  • they are helpless when it comes to imposing discipline as most of the children have their audio devices muted or videos switched off.

Psychologists suggest a few measures like :

  • it is normal to feel anxiety, panic or sadness. Talking to someone about it and allowing yourself to feel these emotions. With feeling comes healing.
  • Happiness chemicals: Dopamine (the reward chemical) completing a task or doing self care activities. Oxytocin (the love hormone) hugging your family members, playing with your pet or doing gardening while listening to music.. Endorphin (the pain killer) laughter is the best medicine or eating dark chocolate and Serotonin (the mood stabilizer) meditating and/or getting your daily dose of sun therapy.
  • Starting a ‘grateful journal’ 
  • Turning the days of isolation into a journey of self discovery and self empowerment.

A few takeaways from this pandemic are that we must all make a concerted effort to draw all the strength and energy we can to come out of these bad times as also to help others around to come out of challenges like negativity and hopelessness without sinking into the abyss of despair, to follow Covid protocols and to be mindful of whatever we do.

Signing off on an optimistic note…remember, “This too shall pass.”