Emotional wellness issues among students are viewed as a general challenge to their overall wellbeing and the advent of Covid-19 has introduced a new range of these difficulties.
This affects not just the pupils, but the instructors and guardians as well.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Just three days earlier, Bangladesh had recorded its first three official coronavirus infections.
Given the country's thick population density and other variables such as poor hygiene practices, the highly contagious disease became a significant threat to wellbeing.
To tame the rising infection rate, the government imposed a countrywide lockdown and restrictions on public movement on March 26 that year.
At the time, all non-essential businesses were shuttered but eventually reopened when restrictions were relaxed.
However, due to recurring waves of Covid-19, all schools, colleges and universities have stayed shut since.
The present circumstance is ruining the potential of the country's students while also upsetting them by disrupting their daily routines.
Besides, home isolation, physical/spatial separating, and different limitations are probably going to mentally affect the students and contrarily impact their psychological prosperity.
According to UNESCO, schools have been discontinued countrywide in 188 nations across the globe as of April 8, 2020.
Over 90 per cent of the enrolled students (1.5 billion youths) at these schools have exited the education system entirely.
“The global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled,” said Audrey Azoulay, director general of UNESCO.
According to a survey conducted by Young Minds, a charity organisation that deals with mental health issues among youths, 32 per cent of respondents said Covid-19 made their mental health substantially worse.
Another 51 per cent of the respondents said the pandemic had little impact on their emotional wellbeing while 9 per cent said it had no effect at all.
On the other hand, 6 per cent of the respondents reported a slight improvement in their mental health while the remaining 2 per cent reported significant improvements.
The students in several developed nations have been able to smoothly continue their education through online learning platforms by using modern technology.
However, many people in Bangladesh lack the technological capability to avail these services.
For students in financial distress, the socio-psychological impact of not being able to use a smart device to attend online classes is harrowing.
Students must at least have a laptop, tablet, or high-quality smartphone, to join digital lectures through online platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, ClassIn, and BIDMA keeping with the current trend.
An unbroken network with a robust Wi-Fi connection is also required to provide smooth access to online classes, which is still unavailable in many rural parts of Bangladesh.
As a result, the psychological effects that come with being unable to attend class demoralises them to continue studies amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
As a consequence, final-year university students in particular are experiencing mental stress due to the job market's limited recruitment potential.
Even despite the recent strict lockdown in Bangladesh that ended on August 5, students were observed expressing their desire to return to their campuses.
Similarly, children are experiencing mental and psychological distress since typical childhood aspects such as socialising in the schoolyard is missing amid the current pandemic, according to research conducted by fifteen international and local organisations, including UNICEF, Save the Children, and World Vision International.
As per the research, 55 per cent of children expressed dissatisfaction with having to remain at home while another study found that 42 per cent of students' lives have grown difficult as a result of the pandemic's long-term education cuts.
Furthermore, 52 per cent were scared about the pandemic's potential consequences.
According to UNESCO, the shutdown of educational institutions in 144 countries has impacted 1.2 billion students globally.
In Bangladesh, around 37 million kids, including 17 million in primary school, have dropped out completely.
An internet-based survey was conducted by Md Saiful Islam on 3,122 local university students aged 18-29 years, 59.5 per cent of which were male, in April 2020.
The results showed that depression, anxiety, and stress were present in 76.1 per cent, 71.5 per cent, and 70.1 per cent of the participants respectively.
Mild symptoms were found in 62.9 per cent, 63.6 per cent and 58.6 per cent of the cases respectively while it was 35.2 per cent, 40.3 per cent and 37.7 per cent respectively for moderate symptoms.
Severe symptoms were reported by 35.2 per cent, 40.3 per cent, and 37.7 per cent respectively while 16.5 per cent reported having extremely severe symptoms.
Covid-19 has induced feelings of isolation, insecurity and instability that may have long-term consequences on people’s mental health.
Considering the age limit for obtaining government jobs, a majority of youths were unusually anxious about their future profession and schooling.
The researchers recommended that the government and authorities take considerable steps to reduce mental health issues among local university students.
So, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, appropriate supportive programs and interventional measures should be taken to treat mental health issues in Bangladesh.
The author is a Program Assistant at the Centre for Governance Studies. Views in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect CGS policy.