- Stress, anxiety, depression unusually high among youths
- Long stay indoors, uncertainty about end of pandemic causing problems
- Internet last resort to interacting with classmates
- Suicide incidents occurring
- Youths should work for developing skills at this critical period, experts suggest
Meem Yea Nury, 19, misses her university campus rather deeply nowadays.
Hardly had one and a half months gone by after her admission into Dhaka University when the Covid-19 pandemic forced a campus shutdown in early April this year.
She has been doing online classes from her hometown, Tangail, since then. She does not know when the campus will reopen and she will be promoted to the second year.
She is bored with staying at home for such a long a time and feels sad at not being able to enjoy her lovely new campus.
"The time for the Honours first year is already over but I cannot go to the campus. There is no class in person and I am afraid of my future results," a worried Meem narrated her worries to The Business Standard.
Even if I have been admitted to the university, I feel bad because I could not enjoy my 'campus life'
"Even if I have been admitted to the university, I feel bad because I could not enjoy my 'campus life'," she added.
Meem used to enjoy the companionship of her classmates, but now she has to stay indoors with her mother. She wants to go out but her mother will not allow that.
"I want a free life," Meem almost yelled.
Mushfiqur Hasan, 24, an Honours final year student of a government college in Rangpur, had dreams of getting a job after taking his degree.
The college has been closed for seven months; no one knows when the exams will be held. Uncertainty is pushing back Mushfiqur's dream from being fulfilled.
"I will be able to try for a job if the exams are over soon. I really need to work to help my poor family. But I do not think I will be able to do anything for them," he said in sheer helplessness.
I will be able to try for a job if the exams are over soon. I really need to work to help my poor family
The pandemic and its economic fallouts are taking a toll on the mental health of many people. But the burden is perhaps the heaviest on those who have just stepped into adulthood and are looking for sources of income to assist their families in need.
Experts note that various kinds of mental problems, including depression, are increasing among the youth because of their long stay at home doing nothing apart from taking resort to the Internet for interaction among themselves.
A recent study said 28.5% of students reported suffering from mild to extremely severe levels of stress while over 33% and about 47% spoke about having the same levels of anxiety and depression respectively.The rates are several times more than usual.
The survey, entitled "The Impact of Covid-19 Pandemic On Mental Health & Wellbeing Among Home-Quarantined Bangladeshi Students: A Cross-Sectional Pilot Study", was conducted online on 505 university and college students in April this year following the announcement of the general holidays by the government.
In April, Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur, and School of Science and Health, University of Western Sydney, Australia, jointly conducted another study on the mental health of students.
The study revealed that over 91% of respondents were concerned about the pandemic. Among them, about 73% suffered from insomnia, about 62% were upset and angry, and 83.5% expressed frustration and apprehension about the future.
Over 68% of respondents said they were in the overall terrified over the pandemic and more than 59% respondents said life had become meaningless to them.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, psychologists say social isolation and the curtailing of some autonomy imposed by the pandemic are particularly difficult for teenagers and young adults to handle.
Uncertainty as to whether and when the pandemic will end and what life will look like in that future is also causing distress among the young.
Meanwhile, more ominously, depression among the young has been leading to suicide incidents too.
In Chattogram, a student of Shyamoli Polytechnic Institute, Pritam Barua (22), committed suicide on September 25 out of frustration, according to his family members.
Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed, an associate professor at the National Institute of Mental Health, said depression and anxiety are on the rise among young people.
We are adapting to a new way of life. So, mental problems are increasing. There is already a fear of Covid-19 infection, and the attempt to adapt to a new lifestyle is also a kind of challenge
"We are adapting to a new way of life. So, mental problems are increasing. There is already a fear of Covid-19 infection, and the attempt to adapt to a new lifestyle is also a kind of challenge."
"Coronavirus will be there but we will have to adapt to it. Young people will have to face this challenge," he suggested.
At this time, young people should be careful about the way their minds work. In addition, they should not be awake at night and sleep during the day, he continued.
They should do something to develop their skills and overcome their mental problems by adapting to the changing times, said Dr Helal.