Recognizing the mental health risk faced by the younger generation in the post pandemic era

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The pandemic has had a huge impact on the lives of young people all over the world. In the pre-pandemic times, youth was meant to be spent hanging out with friends in colleges and cafes and having fun with hardly a thought to the future. The pandemic changed all that. All of a sudden, young people were forced to be at home for months without the scope of any recreational activities. Those who were in milestone years like classes ten and twelve, had to face the uncertainty of exams and the impact on their careers. However, the gradual return to normalcy is also not without its problems.

The young people are now having to deal with a changed world. Whether it is admissions to higher courses, competitive exams or job opportunities, the pandemic has left nothing untouched. Those who are not able to cope are liable to develop anxiety and depression. Those who already have mental health issues may not be in a position to seek treatment due to the economic impact of the pandemic. Many youngsters feel anxious and uncomfortable in social interactions because of having been isolated for so long. Some youngsters have got so used to spending time on their gadgets that communicating with others in face to face interactions feels strange. There are frequent complaints from parents about the excessive time spent on gadgets.

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It is important for family members and teachers to be able to recognise the mental health issues early so that remedial measures can be taken. Some of the common signs and symptoms are:

  • Excessive worrying, feeling anxious and restless. There might even be palpitations, chest discomfort, sweating and tremors at times.
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability and frequent emotional outbursts
  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Use of substances like alcohol or drugs to cope with life’s problems
  • Feeling worthless or guilty all the time
  • Deteriorating academic performance
  • Talking repeatedly about death or talking about life being a burden
  • Neglecting one’s appearance and hygiene

Youth with family history of mental illness and suicide are even more at risk of developing mental health issues. So are those who have had acute and sudden setbacks or stressful life events. Family members need to be vigilant and seek professional help as early as possible, once a significant change in behaviour has been noticed.

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Dr. Preeti Parakh
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