The world has had to deal with its fair share of pandemics over the years. Some of the more recent ones include the Russian flu of 1899 to 1890, which killed over 1 million people. Spanish flu followed shortly after, from 1918 to 1920. Its impact was heavy, resulting in over 50 million fatalities. Others are the Asian flu, Hong Kong flu, and SARS.
The Coronavirus pandemic came like a tornado, wiping everything in its path. As of 2022, the number of deaths due to the disease stands at over 6.28 million. The result of any pandemic is easy to see in the number of deaths. There is also the loss of livelihoods due to the impact of such diseases on the economy.
But, there is another lasting impact that is very alarming. And that is on mental health amongst younger demographics. Our article explores why pandemics affect students’ mental health.
For the purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the corona pandemic. You can be sure of some fascinating insights as we take an in-depth look into the issue.
The Pandemic and Student Mental Health
Governments from all over the world took stringent steps to stop the spread of the virus. One of the most significant was quarantines and total lockdowns. That necessitated the shutting down of schools and businesses. Imagine coming from freedom to move around as much as you wish, then, all at once, that option is no longer available.
The immediate impact for many people was frustration, anxiety, and stress. For adults, the lack of clarity on how the pandemic would resolve was a massive burden on their shoulders. Those who lost jobs were now facing uncertainty about their ability to take care of their families.
For students, indeed anyone, living with stressed parents was hard. Couple this with the isolation from friends, classmates, and the familiar school environment. Online learning allowed for classes to continue. But, that did not ease the anxiety facing these demographics. All these factors compounded, resulted in significant mental anguish and stress.
Some people had the foresight to seek behavioral health services to cope. The professionals helped with encouraging acceptance and provided excellent emotional support. You see, behavioral health services are not only about changing the behavior. It is also about tackling mental health issues.
Even with quarantines in place, the professionals were still available. Clients could reach them thanks to online and telehealth services.
A study shows increased digital mental health service uptake during the pandemic. The research focused on New Zealand and Australia. In Australia, for example, website visits increased by 89%. Telephone calls went up by 90% and mental health assessments by 68%.
Global governments stepped up efforts to scale and increase accessibility to mental health services. They did this through digital and telehealth platforms.
We have hinted at why the pandemic would impact students’ mental health. Let’s explore some of the reasons in more detail.
1. Change in the Students Social Lives
A big part of many students’ lives is the social aspect. Within the school environment, great friendships begin and grow. Indeed, such relationships are the building blocks of a good quality of life. One may argue that the lockdowns did not cut out communication.
True, phone conversations and social media continued as usual. But, the one aspect the students no longer had was physical contact. An inability to interact with friends face-to-face led to feelings of isolation. The isolation made the loneliness even worse.
Loss of social ties and an interruption to routine resulted in anxiety. Other students experienced a decrease in motivation. In the UK young people with existing mental illnesses had a worsening of their conditions. Many suffered relapses due to increasing loneliness and feelings of anxiety.
The lack of easy access to mental health services was a huge issue. It further exacerbated the situation for those who sought help. The existing services could not cope with demand. This resulted in long waiting times for help.
2. Transition to New Ways of Learning
With the lockdown rules in place, schools shifted to online learning. Without a doubt, it was a tough transition for both the institutions and students. What about countries that did not have the proper infrastructure in place? They did not even manage to catch up with such solutions. Take the example of those living in marginalized areas.
For those who could use the platforms, many would think it was a good thing. Yet, the situation very much amplified social isolation and loneliness. Research shows that an inability to cope led to negative psychological outcomes. The results were boredom, distress, and anger.
3. Coping With Uncertainty and Grief
It is easy to get information on the mental health outcomes of the pandemic amongst adults. After all, they are the ones who have the burden of taking care of the younger demographics. People may forget that these young people have to be in the same house as the stressed adults.
Watching parents or caregivers struggle during the pandemic did not occur in isolation. The children had to deal with the uncertainty as well. The anguish of watching the parents struggle would cause mental health issues.
Some students also had to cope with the loss of loved ones. With so much going on, the lack of support would not be uncommon. And, the support that would be available from friends or school systems was also missing.
The availability of online and telehealth services for mental issues was a big help to some. But, the fact is, not everyone has access to such services. Trying to adjust to loss, without the relevant support, can lead to long term mental health issues.
The world is learning to adjust to living with the Coronavirus. But it is crucial to take care of our mental health. Parents who have school-going children must keep a close eye on them.
The long-term mental effects of coping with the pandemic may not be immediately clear. But over time, it could lead to significant problems down the line.
Seeking mental and behavioral health services could be the perfect answer. The professionals work with the family, couples, and individuals to develop lasting solutions.
This post has been sponsored by LinkDoctor
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