Mental stress among college students on rise during Covid-19
A student of Delhi University’s Lady Shri Ram College recently died by suicide owing to the stress of not getting her scholarship on time, and because of online classes being an economic burden on her family. During the entire pandemic, students have been trying to cope with what the new normal seems to be for them, ranging from online classes, travelling in the pandemic to appear for exams and constant tussle with occupancy of rooms in hostels.
“Honestly, we are really tired of raising our voices for the problems we have been facing. Whether it’s online open book exams or online classes, students have been protesting against it all. Some of our parents have lost jobs. They aren’t in a position to support our education, leave alone buy us a new laptop for us to be able to attend online classes. My friends who live in villages, don’t have WiFi or internet connectivity, as it’s available in the city. Despite all this, we all have persisted in coping with digital learning. Glued to the screen for six hours a day, we are under mental stress, and it’s time that people take cognisance of the load of online assignments, online exams, and many other challenges that we are facing,” says Amrutha V Devan, a student of Miranda House college, Delhi University.
Recently, entrance exams that were conducted for various colleges and courses required the students to travel from their home towns to the designated examination centres. “I had to travel in the pandemic to give the Delhi University Entrance Test (DUET), and my centre was Chandigarh. My journey from Delhi to Chandigarh was full of fear. I had mask, gloves and sanitiser, but the constant worry about staying in a hotel, eating outside food, and travelling at the risk of contracting the virus was a huge mental stress for me. But what other way did I have?” says Sanjay Kataria, a masters student of Department of Library and Information Science, DU.
Financial burden owing to layoffs in the pandemic is further adding to woes of many youngsters. “My father is a cancer patient, and my mother’s rented grocery shop is the only source of income. I cannot afford the expenses of online classes and even my college fee at the moment. My ambition is to join the civil service and to achieve my dream I need to continue my studies in Delhi. My family has a lot of hope from me but everything seems so difficult because of the economic condition we are in,“ says Lekshmy A R, a student of Zakir Husain Delhi College, DU.
The amount of mental stress that students are going through is due to various reasons. Vedha Chopra, a psychologist at Manas Foundation, says, “Students currently are undergoing a lot of stress during the pandemic. The ones who appeared for entrances, did so during the lockdown under novel and difficult circumstances. College students are having difficulty adjusting to the online method of attending classes. Some of them don’t even have the devices to support this medium of education and those who do have, need to adapt to sitting patiently in front of a screen and concentrate for hours at a stretch. This format of learning is something that they have never been exposed to before.”
Chopra opines that youngsters who are unable to meet friends, who are a support system for them are further distressed. “Home is another aspect of normalcy that has been taken away from students’ daily lives. Friendships are an important contributor towards factors such as healthy cognitive development, and for fostering skills such as empathy, conflict resolution and decision making,” she adds.
Author tweets @FizzyBuddha