Effects on the mental health of students due to school reopening pressure. Find the best child psychiatrist or psychologist near you
In these two years, this pandemic twisted everything related to education, suddenly the schools were empty, the teachers were puzzled, and stressed, and it all significantly affected our young learners, students. According to a survey by UNICEF 1 out of 5 children have experienced feeling depressed and that's still a huge number. Hence, in this blog, I am trying to touch on a few aspects regarding school reopening and how it did affect a student’s psychological health. The points I have elaborated are as follows:
1. The importance of early years in childhood,
2. how it is affected due to the pandemic,
3. the applied interventions.
Learning depends on the environment. A child learns naturally to see his parents and how the people around them are. They learn right from talking to behaving or dealing with happiness and sadness. The important learning processes happen in the early years. For eg. if parents are expressive you may find their ward expressive. Also, the social context helps them to understand the social norms, how they are supposed to behave socially and that too they learn in the early years. It becomes an individual’s social skills. They learn things like there's a difference in talking and communicating, they not only learn to write but to give their opinions, reflect their learnings in their language. A child's earlier years play a critical role in their language skills and overall development. Talking, reading, and writing not only foster their development but also their forthcoming development relies on that. Hence, a child's early years are always important for their physical and overall psychological development.
In the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a drop in well-being, and an increase in mental health problems in our practises. Mostly, the children who were referred for counselling in the pandemic were having issues like feeling sad, not following instructions, increased mobile addiction, being insecure about their career, etc. and hencestudents' mental health was increasing concern in the pandemic. Because of the pandemic situation and demanding measures such as lockdown and stay-at-home orders, the COVID-19 pandemic brings negative impacts on the education pattern or system. Developing interventions and preventive measures to address the mental health of school and college students was needed at that hour. Also, the New Education Policy was introduced with innovative changes and interventions which were mandatory and thoughtful ones. Those were beautifully placed to respect a child's learning and to execute inclusive education in a great way to help each learner despite their differences like individual, demographic, cultural, and socioeconomic statuses.
As the lockdown happened all the students and teachers were used to being connected through devices and learning was still in the picture. The students who used to come and talk about their online exams often used to report that they are little secure as they are taking good precautions of themselves, promoting hygiene and cleanliness, and to study was a sort of ease as they were in their home. On the other hand, many of the students were found insecure as they felt that their study will be a waste as the other students can simply cheat in the online exams.
Everyone adjusted to the virtual model of schooling, which never felt like how the classroom environment should be like. It was a replacement but not a great one in terms of connection and entertainment. Also, many students of our country were not able to learn the way which was an easy thing for a privileged child. Many of the cities were dependent on mobile phones and a huge number of students lacked this because of the shortage of basic facilities like mobile networks, internet, and the availability of devices. That phase made us realize that the importance of technology in education is important.
Now as the schools are slowly moving towards the offline mode again, it is a vital stage for the students because this again is going to be a huge shift. Since the anxiety of the coronavirus is still not gone, numbers are still increasing, people are horrified due to the news of negative events like deaths, parents and kids are still uncertain about the idea of going back to school. However, to some extent, there is a feeling of relief at the confinement period being somewhat over and children can now meet their friends and be in an actual classroom.
Also, in my counselling sessions, parents used to report that not only visiting the school did scare them but also calling tutors at their homes was a challenge as the safety of children was a primary goal. Social distancing and keeping hygienic habits were difficult to keep up at their age and it was too unrealistic to follow.
The reopening also made them think and feel pressured about their exam patterns, the overall life at the sports ground, the music room, and how they will follow all such guidelines in the school premises. I do remember that one of my students asked me, how to keep a distance when you are playing with your buddies or doing an art activity.
It's also important that as an educator, the teachers have to take the responsibility to sensitize the students about the covid guidelines repetitively so they can support the entire school functions and ultimately to the health of the masses.
The teachers also reported in virtual group therapy that a few teenage students were worried about their physical appearance as due to lack of activities they did gain weight and were feeling hesitant to come to school. In general, the reopening took a toll on their overall emotional wellbeing and mental health. Though it was also going to help students to have their social life again on track it did also affect them on many levels not only to the student but parents too.
In a panel discussion with school principals, it was asserted that students who were withlow self-esteem, poor academic performance, lack of career goals were not interested in continuing their studies or even attending the online lectures. "Most of the students used to switch off their mike,camera and were not responding properly, or used to trouble other students and due to it, all learning processes were interrupted" a teacher reported.
Also, being a school psychologist I found out that as we were engrossed in news, social media platforms and sadly they also learned that being on Instagram, TikTok is much easier and can give them opportunities to earn money without having any education. A student who was studying in 10th did not at all want to do studies but to make money playing a game on her phone. Due to all the hype of such viral content, memes, vlogs on news, the students were so highly influenced that they found these things are easier to do than to have or to strive for better career goals.
The reopening also made students worried about their financial status as many parents lost their jobs in the pandemic and paying school fees was a challenge for them at that time. It did make one of my bright students feel so embarrassed that she was found too submissive to answer in the online classes and used to cry suddenly in the lectures.
The continuous news of deaths, the severity of the virus, the shortage of important medical facilities was also witnessed by the students and obviously, it was an added anxiety for their age. Unfortunately, some of them also lost their parents, and surviving, living a normal life became an ultimate challenge for them.
Covering all this I may have missed a few points but I would like to focus on how to provide interventions to the students so they can feel less pressured. The interventions can involve things like identifying the needs of students, motivating them to communicate with adults or professionals, arranging group therapies, helping the teachers to understand how they can screen their students, spreading awareness regarding mental health issues, etc.
If you think your child could be going through mental pressure, you can speak to a child therapist. Mpower, a mental health initiative by Aditya Birla Education Trust, has an experienced team of psychologist, psychiatrist, child therapist, and various other counsellors available at various locations like Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. Also, mental health centre is opening up soon in Pune.
You can reach out to these counsellors from 10 am to 6:30 pm at the below centres,
MPOWER- THE CENTRE (MUMBAI)
1/155, 15, Nyaymurti Sitaram
Patkar Marg, Khareghat Colony,
Hughes Road, Mumbai - 400007
+91 22 23828133
+91 22 23856228
MPOWER- THE CENTRE (BENGALURU)
2nd Floor, 2983, 12th Main,
Indira Nagar, HAL, 2nd stage,
Bengaluru - 560 008.
+91 80 25209712
MPOWER - THE CENTRE (KOLKATA)
Unit N210A-211, 2nd Floor,
North Block, Ideal Plaza,
11/1, Sarat Bose Road
MPOWER - THE FOUNDATION (MUMBAI)
22B, vasantrao N Naik Marg,
Opp. Bhatia Hospital, Tardeo,
Mumbai - 400 007.
+91 22 2386 8650
+91 22 2387 5147
+91 81087 99299
You can book an appointment here- https://mpowerminds.com/seekhelp . You can also chat with the counsellors here- https://mpowerminds.com/chat
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