Addressing the mental health crisis of youths
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is a state of well-being in which the individuals can cope with the normal stresses of life and work productively and fruitfully. On top of that, they are able to contribute to their family and community. Contrarily, mental health crisis is about a mental state of the individuals who are unable to cope with the everyday stresses of life.
It is a global health problem. But the teens and youths of the low and lower-middle income countries are bearing the most brunt of mental health crisis. It is estimated that one in six people faces mental health crisis in the world. Half of the mental health crisis starts by 14 years of age but in most cases it is undetected and untreated. As per the report of the WHO, in Bangladesh approximately 15 million people are suffering from mental health crisis.
Actually, mental healthcrisis is not in most cases related to mental disorder.According to psychiatrists, many people who suffer from clinical disorder hardly seek treatment. The issues related to mental health are ignored in most cases. The common people give a little importance to mental health and they hardly realize that for a sound body, sound mind is the pre-requisite. However, reports reveal that teens and youths are experiencing unprecedented mental health crisis in the country.
Studies have shown that in the era of technology, people facing mental despondency more acutely than those of the previous generations. Amid the affluence of technology, people are found less emotional towards face to face relation and more engaged in virtual world. Thousands of years of socialization with which our lineages would be proud have started decaying due to the paradigm shift of socialization.
Sharing and caring are more prevalent on virtual platforms than that of real life situation. It is true that social media has given the users enormous scopes to get connected with the world and people. But at the end of the day,many feel lonely and go through mental health crisis. Experts claim that the youths are entering the state of mental depression due to social media addiction.
Psychiatrists say that depression is one of the major causes of mental health problem. When children are isolated from the real touch of world being addicted to virtual world fall into great despair. Not only that, the excessive use of social media has made many youths victimized to online aggression and cyber bullying.
In these days, the teens and youths are more frustrated. In many cases they avoid the challenges in life. Again frustration leads many to commit or attempt suicide and many more detrimental activities to escape the burden of the reality. Reports say that the people aged from 18 to 30 are more vulnerable to commit and attempt suicide in the country. Again, in case of suicidal and attempting cases girls and women are more vulnerable. As per the report of the WHO, every year more than 8 lakh people die by suicide in Bangladesh. Besides, against each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.
Recently, the findings of a survey reveal that the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on mental health of students. The study found that the reasons behind the students' mental health problems are many. Amid the pandemic students at every level of education have faced a dire hopelessness due to the uncertain closure of educational institutions. They were tired of loneliness and fearful of death by the Covid-19. Mental pressure was more pervasive for the case of poor students. The parents of many students lost their livelihoods due to pandemic that made them think of their uncertain future.
Certainly, many students have involved themselves in informal works to support their families and they see little scopes to return schools. Thinking of the deprivation of education and family burden have made them mentally sick. During theclosure of school, girls have faced a constant pressure for marriages at the early age that put them into vulnerable state of their mind.
Apart from this, many faced enormous problems to receive education online and they had worries least they should be trapped by session jam resulting in the loss of valuable time of their life. During the pandemic, the youths hardly found scopes for employment. The ill-fated job seekers who expired their age limit for government jobs became frustrated and many others who were counting the days to see the situation normal. Undoubtedly, students of all levels of education have undergone really very tough days.
The survey also reveals that at least 75.5 percent students lost their interest in studies during the pandemic and the female students were more frustrated than their counterparts. In the long shutdown of education, 80 per cent students spent more than seven hours on screen every day and of them 98.3 per cent faced different problems for spending long time in front of the screen.Many students have become frustrated to think of the post Covideducation, curriculum and examination which pushed them into mental health crisis.
Again studies alleged that parents were in many cases responsible for their mental depression. Many parents tell that they do not give quality time for their children. They are busy with their own works and hardly perform parental responsibilities properly.
Contrarily, there are some parents who are very harsh to their children. These factors can also push the children into mental health crisis. Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to sexual violence, which has a clear association with detrimental mental health.
After a long closure, the country's education has reopened. Amid many challenges addressing mental health of students is undeniably a major one. At every public university, there is a student counselling centre. But it is apparent that in most cases students hardly visit the centre for lessening their depression.
Besides, the centre may not be supportive enough to provide the access of huge students. At schools and colleges mental health services for students has not been ensured yet. As the country's most potential community is undergoing mental health crisis, it is high time the concerted effort was needed to tackle mental despondency of the students. There is no alternative to solve the students' various psychological problems through counseling. Parents and teachers must have the responsibilities to perform on priority basis to reduce academic, health and career related worries of the youths.
The writer is a teacher at Prime University and a research
scholar at the IBS