It’s almost going to be two months since we have been cooped up in homes. The detrimental impact of facing a pandemic can be seen in the struggling mental health of students, senior citizens, and women, in particular.
Students are struggling with the vision of an uncertain future
Many students are in different phases of their academic year that has come at a standstill. The ones in the middle of it are facing difficulty with dependency on the internet as e-learning has become the norm.
Struggling to adapt to the e-earning system, a ninth class student Alisha Siddiqui shared, “The internet is erratic and I miss out on the online classes. This adds to the stress because I will be taking the board finals next year.”
On the other hand, some have completed their academic year and are waiting to take their entrance exams.
It’s no surprise that every 2020 entrance exam has been postponed. Some of the most competitive exams that make the list are NEET and JEE Main which usually see a very high number of applications. The application process for other exams has been extended.
The pang of uncertainty around is causing considerable mental stress to the students.
An aspirant of the medical and engineering academic fields, Yashika Singh shared, “I am at the threshold of a career and I am facing a blank future. I do not know when these exams will be held and whether I will get time to search for other options. I am obviously under severe stress and so are my parents.”
How can the mental stress the students are feeling be eased?
The president of the Indian Institute of Health Management Research, Dr. Pankaj Gupta stated that students must be counseled to accept reality and manage stress about things that aren’t in their control.
“Parents, mentors, and educational institutions must undertake counseling sessions with students so that the stress level is minimized,” Dr. Gupta further stated.
The foundation of senior citizen’s mental health is also shaken
After two months of lockdown, senior citizens are experiencing increased stress levels. Although it started with a feeling of elation for the extra family time we shall all get, slowly the cramping personal space between families has lead to increased tension.
A mother who has been staying with her two sons since the lockdown began, Sheila Srivastava stated, “When the family came together in the beginning, there was euphoria and everyone enjoyed being together. But now we seem to be getting on each other’s nerves. The children feel burdened with us and the grandchildren no longer seem to enjoy our company. We are also missing the solitude that we had earlier.”
Just like Shiela, our parents or grandparents might have been experiencing the challenges of anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, and lack of physical activity. Sheila and her husband have felt apprehensive, resentful, anxious, and prone to anger lately.
Does that sound familiar? Then you must check-in with how your parents or grandparents are feeling.
Explaining various challenges of senior citizens and their solutions, Director of CHAI Kreative and Return of Million Smiles, Kewal Kapoor shared, “Senior citizens tend to feel ignored by their grandchildren who remain preoccupied with their smartphones and computers or face bitterness due to their financial dependence. The government should launch a mental health helpline to assist seniors, and announce specific concessions for them.”
What are the mental health challenges of women during the lockdown?
Although in the beginning, lockdown seemed to bring the comfort of a slowed-down pace for homemaker women but that’s not the case.
Giving insight into the internal struggle of homemakers, a young homemaker Ruchi Khanna shared, “Initially, it seemed an ideal situation where the family was spending their time together and I was cooking for them because the domestic help was absent. But now, my husband has gone back to work and children are busy with online classes. My in-laws are unwell and all household chores are being done by me. No one has the time to help. I am feeling over-burdened and extremely stressed.”
What about women who are working from home?
Juggling between work and home during a pandemic has taken a toll on them. A mental health expert, Prakriti Poddar shared, “Those who have jobs and are working from home, are finding it difficult to negotiate the challenges of different spaces and managing different people while at work. Many of them are finding it difficult to manage their family lives where incidents of frequent outbursts are often reported.”
What can we do about it?
It’s integral to acknowledge and accept the mental health struggles that facing a pandemic has brought about.
“In the prevailing situation, stress is inevitable and more complicated. Everyone is experiencing anxiety.” Poddar further stated, “We all must look out for each other and never refrain from seeking help on mental health helpline numbers whenever we need help.”
The situation is tough and the measures adopted to combat it, such as this strict lockdown, can affect one’s mental health. The best way is to check-in with loved ones regularly.