How frequent reopening and closure of schools due to Covid-19 impact students' mental health

How frequent reopening and closure of schools due to Covid-19 impact students' mental health



How frequent reopening and closure of schools due to Covid-19 impact students' mental health



Here are some of the ways that have impacted the mental health of students by frequent closure and reopening of schools due to Covid-19.

Frequent closures and intermittent opening of schools, due to Covid-19, have been an upsetting experience for a lot of students and teachers, causing severe anxiety and stress.

Schools, in addition to academic support, provide non-academic services such as health and mental health services, food assistance, obesity prevention, and intervention for homelessness and maltreatment. In this article, we explain how school closures and the loss of other non-academic support can have a tremendous impact on students' physical and emotional health.


WHAT ISSUES ARE RECENTLY OBSERVED TO STUDENTS DUE TO THE INCREASE IN CASES?


"It is easy to say that the virtual or hybrid-virtual cycle has become the `norm` but the reality is that the transition is not easy. 

The scholastic and social-emotional skills that children develop through interaction in school classrooms and corridors actively or even in passive mode are not possible in a virtual classroom," says Madhavi Goswami, Deputy Headmistress, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Ghaziabad

Explaining the state of mind of children these days, she furthers adds that "Children are not only lagging behind in basic skills like reading, comprehension, or solving simple math problems, but also lacking in socio-emotional skills like empathy, self-control, expressing feelings, decision making, social awareness, discipline, etc. - which is worrying."

"Students, in general, can also feel anxious as there is a rise in cases. They can have fears of contracting covid, losing loved ones like in the second wave, fear of school shutting down, and losing friendships all over again, says Akanksha Mishra, MA, BC-DMT, Counsellor, ShivNadarSchool, Gurugram.


ARE STUDENTS COMING TO COUNSELLORS WITH MORE PROBLEMS RELATED TO MENTAL HEALTH?


" There are some social and interpersonal concerns. Some feel stressed due to physical strain and exhaustion as they are not used to much physical activity now. 

They are taking time adjusting to a socially stimulating environment after a long haul of living in isolation within the four walls of their homes," the counsellor further adds.

With the right guidance and support of teachers, students can bring this fear to a minimum level and start accepting this new normal.


WHAT IS THE AVERAGE GROUP OF STUDENTS FACING THESE PROBLEMS?


" After a lot of research and study, it has been observed that this problem is mainly witnessed with children of the age group between 13 to 18 years, as at this age, children undergo many other changes which sometimes make it tough for them to adopt this new normal," says Dr Sandeep Vohra, Senior Consultant Physiatrist, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.


WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS BEING FACED BY STUDENTS AND PARENTS?


Here are some of the problems that have been observed in children and parents in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Problems being faced by children :-


Adjustments to schools operating in the required Covid-19 appropriate manner (a different atmosphere, fear of catching the virus, social distancing, etc.)

Anxiety

Erratic sleep patents

Uneven eating patterns

Weight gain

Making new friends (as online education could help create social bonds to a limit)

Problems being faced by parents:-

Helping their children adjust to new routines

Difficulty in understanding changed behavioral patterns of their children, if any


FROM STUDENTS' POINT OF VIEW


Students have faced a lot during this span of two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Frequent closure and irregularity of timings have disturbed the concentration level of students, and disruptions in assessments result in stress for students and trigger disengagement. Most importantly, students lose touch with each other and with their teachers.

"Online learning is a good temporary fill-in for on-campus learning, but it cannot replace the richness of the in-person connection between us and teachers. Sudden school closures can be particularly hard on children with special needs, such as autism and mutism. 

These important issues must be addressed to mitigate the impact of sudden school closures on the mental health of students," says Navya Tyagi, a student.


HOW TO OVERCOME FROM THIS PROBLEM?


"The solution lies in the fact that all concerned stakeholders will have to strengthen safety measures and ensure the mental health of students and teachers. That's why schools need to invest now in the mental health and well-being of our kids in a broad and comprehensive way," says Madhavi Goswami, Deputy Headmistress.

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