Pandemic and Life
An article on the impact of the pandemic on student life and mental health.
With the upsurge in covid positive cases during the second wave of this pandemic, lifeless and lively have become synonymous. Its impact has disrupted the way humans as a civilization used to exist. Every day, life brings a new challenge but the élan to overcome them has gone kaput.
One of the major impacts we see is on the quality of our lives. It is hampered. From our every day schedule to the problems we face by the repeated use of masks, from going to schools and colleges to spending our day in front of screens and from going outside in evenings to staring at empty streets, we all have somewhat accepted our fate and are trying to adjust with this new normal. Though there have been some positives to this too but they are seriously outnumbered by the negatives.
Another aspect of the pandemic’s impact is on education. Online learning is becoming a daunting task, highly challenging for a student who had been carefree until now to restrict studying online. Adding to it are the limitations of visual interaction, unavailability of reading material and then distractions being just a click away. In a survey of 733 students studying in government schools in Bihar, only 28% of the girls had smartphones in their homes, in contrast to 36% of the boys. This shows how upsetting the condition is and how such gaps in education may affect their future.
For the new students in colleges, learning from interacting with seniors and their experiences is another missing aspect. Even though online learning platforms like Coursera and Udemy are doing a great job with their well structured courses, the online learning system still hasn’t evolved well and it can never fully replace the traditional modes of teaching.
With the cancellation of board exams this year, admission to colleges without an entrance exam has become inexplicit. The hard work of students who prepared for these exams seems futile. The indefinite change is posing a challenge to students, parents, and institutions alike.
Moreover, on an emotional level of an individual, we see that expectations are crushed. Expectations of freshers getting into a college, experiencing a totally different dimension of their young lives. The hopes of students graduating this year to get their dream job in their dream company remained a dream for many. Employment rates have hit their bottom low. Employment fell from 390.8 million in April 2021 to 375.5 million in May 2021. From migrant workers to educated employees, almost everyone suffered the blow. Sadly, these rates are predicted to witness a steeper decline in the coming months.
Another major concern is the declining mental and physical health. Sitting in front of screens for hours in the pursuit to learn and grow has surged eyesight related issues. Isolation, joblessness, childcare, and many other challenges severely affected the mental well-being of many people around the world. Family issues have escalated. Parental conflicts to sibling’s fights, heated arguments over petty issues, everything harming mental wellbeing. A survey found that a whopping 38% of people were feeling tired or lacked energy, 36% were having sleep disturbances, and 25% were feeling down, depressed, or hopeless. Loss of hope is turning students nihilistic and is pushing them into an existential crisis. Fear of loss of loved ones, raises anxiety in these unprecedented times. Overthinking questions like “If someone tests positive in my family, where would I arrange oxygen from”, pose complex problems.
Survival in these uncertain times requires effort, effort to revive hope, effort to collect oneself and keep moving forward. These times are dark but surely there will be light. Afterall, every problem is an opportunity to grow stronger.