One of the worst times in the modern era was the covid-19 pandemic, which rivaled the great depression of 1929 and far outclassed the financial blood baths of the 2008 housing market crash and the 1999 dot com bubble crash. As expected of the fatal virus that imprisoned every single person within their homes, the health of many people declined rapidly. The virus took its toll on people physically, but the mental aspect of it cannot be understated. There was an outbreak of misinformation, causing massive fear among the public; even if one was not personally affected or going through any severe side effects of the virus, they suffered, all the same, seeing their surroundings turn into an apocalyptic environment.
One of the primary victims of horrible mental health was the students, mainly the university ones. This group was hit the hardest, primarily because this period of one’s life is when one steps into adulthood and achieves self-actualization. Universities worldwide suddenly shifted online, causing massive disruption in how students were familiar with their ability to learn. This change was so quick that many couldn’t adapt.
Factors such as if someone had access to a device such as a smartphone or PC, a stable internet connection, and a comfortable place to sit were all critical when it came to doing online classes. However, according to a survey conducted during this period, only 61% of students had all the requirements. Another big reason that caused distress among students was that their universities were not reducing fees despite them not using any of the campus facilities and the classes being conducted online. The pandemic had caused an enormous financial burden among most families, which in turn caused difficulty in paying university tuition fees; some could not pay at all! Nearly 76% of participants reported that their families’ income had decreased.
Another observation that was noticed was how much students were spending time online. The reasons ranged from their academic and work-related activities being conducted virtually to wanting to stay connected with friends and families that they could not see. Also, internet usage beyond the above reasons was also noticed to be at an all-time high. A staggering 31% of the students surveyed spent more than 6 hours online, and more than 54% of the participants spent nearly 4 hours on social media apps. And as a result of which, a positive relation was found between an increase in mental health issues and time spent
online. Another observation was that many students found time for adequate sleep; this was something that nearly 75% of the participants said they could not get before the pandemic. However, 20.1% of participants now report that they are oversleeping. A positive correlation was seen between oversleeping and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Due to having more spare time, many students reported that they could focus more on studying, skill development, hobbies, and self-care. 4% of the participants now spend more than 6 to 7 hours on their academics or goals, an increase from 2.9%. However, the reasons identified for this were that many participants had difficulties coping with their online study method. As a result, it required them to spend more time and effort learning what they were being taught in class. However, many students who suffered from anxiety and depression, ranging from mildly severe to severe, could not focus that much on their academics or personal development. These participants also often reported sleeping for more than 9 hours, another major factor for increased mental health issues.
In conclusion, the reasons for which a student’s mental health was affected during this period were varying and diverse. For some, it was the inability to cope with the stagnation of everyday life and not being able to adjust to how they now have to learn. For others, it was suffering from sickness due to the virus or watching their loved ones suffer or perish. Many loathed that they could not meet people they were fond of and had to remain distant from regular human contact socially. All in all, nearly 74% of students all over Bangladesh suffered from some form of mental health issue, and one can hope that the government can use this horrible catastrophe to better prepare for any such future case that may occur.