Modern Student Mental Health Issues

Student mental health and well-being are more important than ever

by Intsab Sahi

It would be a safe bet that the students of the year 2020 have much more to stress than going to class. Due to the global pandemic, campuses have been forced to close for most of this year, leaving students little time to adjust to the idea of ​​digital classrooms. Never before have students been forced to adapt to such drastic changes in the way they learn.

Before the global outbreak of the coronavirus, students from all walks of life had healthy outlets to channel their stress on campus. From extracurricular activities to group study sessions, there were always plenty of activities at schools and college campuses to buffer classroom stress.

Today more than ever, the presence of a mental health professional with students is necessary in schools and universities. Even though mental health attitudes are changing in Pakistan, there is still a long way to go to become a therapy positive society. To dismiss the need for a therapist on campus today would be to consciously ignore the impact of rapid changes in routine, fear of illness and new challenges to overcome as campuses open after more than six months.

Stigma around therapy

In Pakistan, asking for help and going to therapy is not common, largely because of the cultural stigma associated with it. Visiting a mental health professional is often considered unnecessary, and anyone who sees a therapist may need to do so in confidence.

More importantly, the common perception that anyone who sees a psychologist or psychiatrist must have a serious mental disorder drives the doctor’s office away in many ways. Therefore, if a student is facing issues related to their mental well-being, chances are they will end up seeking the help they need.

However, if schools, colleges and universities hired mental health professionals and encouraged students to participate in counseling sessions, it may well signal a significant shift in negative perceptions associated with therapy.

Ask for help

It would be entirely reasonable to expect that students returning to campus this year would require more attention than before. The anxiety around coronavirus protocols, social distancing and the new normal is sure to affect young minds. Students returning to school carry personal and psychological baggage resulting from the implications of the pandemic – these implications can range from extensive isolation protocols to the economic impact it has had on nearly every family .

Prolonged time spent in situations of dysfunctional family dynamics, depression, or simply a sense of loss are just a few of the many factors that can combine to affect students’ personal and academic growth.

It’s easy to overlook mental well-being if you’re a student dealing with course overload, adjusting to the myriad changes in your school environment, and general uncertainty in all facets of life. including education. Pupils may not realize the need for guidance until it is too late, but schools know best. They can take proactive steps by hiring professionals and creating a safe space where students can go to discuss the mental health issues plaguing them.

It is high time to normalize the need for therapy, according to Naqsh-e-Fakhar, an architecture thesis student at CNA. “It seems like we are learning how to fight war to survive at a much younger age now,” Naqsh says. “Everything has changed dramatically in the last few months. Our finances are all over the place, we are emotionally and physically drained, and to top it off, there is so much work to do before the thesis is submitted that we all have mini blackouts every day. According to the 20-year-old architecture student, “it would be a great relief to have a professional to talk to on campus, as they could help us through this feeling of emptiness and underachievement.”

The need of the hour

Dr. Tariq Aziz is a retired psychiatrist who now works from home and lends his expertise to a drug rehabilitation clinic. He believes: “It’s crucial to have a psychologist on board in schools and universities, I can’t stress that enough.” The professional views child psychology as an often overlooked issue in education and believes that children suffer the most when their mental health issues are trivialized, which is sadly all too common in our society. “Every time a child performs poorly, we begin to put more pressure on them to do well in the classroom. Instead of addressing the root cause of a student’s behavioral changes, we tend to make it worse by not seeking professional help.”

According to Dr. Aziz, “children often reflect their family pathology.” When asked to elaborate, he told Academia: “Children often react to what is happening at home or at school by fighting back at the teacher, disrupting lessons or distancing themselves. ” The psychiatrist clarifies that it is not always the child, but the family or the school bully who is the real problem. “We can only uncover the deeper problem by looking deeper into the matter, and if it doesn’t If there is no one at school to advise children when needed, their mental health will suffer and the real cause will not be detected.”

What to do

The mental well-being of our students cannot be ignored, especially now. An on-campus mental health professional can determine, through an assessment, the individual needs of a student dealing with something as common as exam stress to a more alarming eating disorder, to depression or cognitive impairment.

“If our education system starts prioritizing mental health when recruiting professionals, then seeking help for mental health issues will not just remain something you need, it will become part of the process. education, something you will learn from that could help shape your future,” Naqsh-e-fakhar says thoughtfully.

Having a psychologist on campus can no longer be considered something that only happens on western college campuses. The Pakistani student is no different from his American or European counterparts. To think that Pakistani college students don’t face body image issues, struggle with eating disorders, struggle with gender identity, are depressed, or experience abuse would be to overlook a problem. blatant.

It’s time we recognize that our students need all the help they can get, and that receiving therapy becomes less of a contentious topic.

However, to encourage parents and children to seek professional help, it must first be made available. To do this, policy makers and education actors must come together and require educational institutions to have a mental health professional on board.

It may take a long time to reach the aforementioned goal, but in the meantime, we can at least start the conversation, which has been waiting for years.

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