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Pandemic: Factors affecting mental health & its implications on Youth

Mental Health has become one of the major contemporary topics of discussion since the pandemic. The fear of loss and the anxiety of lagging has become quite eminent among youth. The world is understood as a projection of collective fear and a missed opportunity for the future.

Along with fears, the pandemic has taken a severe toll on achieving high-end dreams, which has left people with feelings of helplessness. Last year on March 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic unfolded, leading to a nationwide lockdown. Although the situation witnessed a seeming drop since then, its aftermath has become almost inevitable.

A major shift in the lifestyle, like technology taking over live classrooms, offices turning into a hybrid work station, alterations in career plans have become a severe cause of each person living next door. But, one can witness the severity of an event from the increasing 35 percentage of the pre-existing disorders in India.

Adverse effect on future opportunities

Often, we have normalized the problems of youth, as they have become a part of their daily sufferings. However, it is significant to consider that they make up 22% of the population, which estimates around 261 million people that sum more than the entire population of many countries like Pakistan. Thus, it becomes crucial to confirm their stance in society, and not treat them by putting them last.

Undisputedly, Pandemic has shaken the roots of these growing leaders. For many, it has left them in isolation, feeling alienated, restless, anxious and depressed. The vital shifts in career and job opportunities have harmed the most. As for some, the Pandemic brought delays in academic cycles and admissions, many self-sabotaging the options because of increased anxieties and depression. The months spent in the four walls have decreased the power of socializing and reaching out. They have been losing their valuable wit and humour in successions. A flagship report published by UNICEF in October discloses the impact of this adversity for many coming years.

“Children in India have been through a challenging time living through the risks and restrictions posed by the pandemic . . . Children have not only been living an emotional tragedy, but many are also at a higher risk of neglect and abuse,” said UNICEF India Representative Dr Yasmin Ali Haque.

The constant struggle between the acceptance and negligence of the problem has left them ignorant to the cause, thus, carrying the burden of mental health without addressing them and getting the needed treatment. So, it becomes vital to spread more awareness and come up with immediate solutions to tackle it.

What do we do?

How are the impacts of negligence brought into consideration? How is one supposed to address them? What are the lessons learnt? And, how to move forward and learn to live with the aftermath of Covid-19?

Safeguarding Factors

It is important to consider mental health as a resource, a value of its own, impacting the overall growth of an individual. Lots of determinants that affect mental disorders varies from different risk factors. A few of them are listed below:

• Academic failure and scholastic demoralization

• Child abuse & neglect

• Emotional immaturity

• Personal loss

• Social incompetence

• Stressful life events


These are combative with the guidance of preventive factors, which can target the determinants affecting the onset of mental health:

• Ability to cope with stress

• Autonomy

• Literacy

• Problem-solving skills

• Stress management

• Socio-emotional growth, and many more.


Micro-strategies to achieve an improved quality of mental health

Pandemic has exacerbated the crisis of mental health. But, it is prominent to remember that it is curable. One must address the problem to find a solution. The recent survey conducted by UNICEF concluded that only 41% of the youth in India seek the idea of getting mental health support. The stigma of mental illness acts as a hindrance for many as it impacts mental health issues entirely.

However, some micro-strategies can help, protect, improve and implant a coping mechanism during such severe times.

Maintain a structure or routine

In current times, youth is facing the cause of isolation either due to working from home, online schooling or period of unemployment. It has intensified stress, anxiety, fear and lack of concentration. Thus, maintaining a routine or making a new one can help manage behaviours and control overwhelming situations.

Pick up an activity

Learning a new skill boosts self-confidence. Instead of stressing over what is lost or not working out due to constant delays, indulging in a new skill or a hobby can improve overall well-being.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present thoughts, feelings and sensations at the moment, using techniques such as meditation, breathing and yoga. It helps to get in control of emotions and cope with them better. Studies show, doing it soon after waking up and before going to bed improves life expectancy.


The Way Forward

To address the youth, their ecology has to be taken into consideration. Their emotional and behavioural environment must improve to prevent any negative outcomes. Since we do not yet know how long it will take to get back to normal, we must swiftly adapt to the new normal, and equip ourselves with the preventive factors to avoid any stressful conditions.

“To live is to function”, and mental health is an important resource to function better. Thus, the aftermath should be tackled consciously. As the situation continues to change, we must adapt in dynamic ways for better and healthy well-being. Most importantly, reaching out to loved ones and seeking mental health from external sources should not be restricted.

Scope for Improvement

India is one of the populous countries in the world with an approximate 1.38 billion population. However, it faces a dire shortage of mental health experts and counsellors. We have less than one expert to attend to 100,000 people. Thus, at a macro level, the government should take responsibility for promoting mental health awareness and its necessity to push budding professionals in the field.

Although the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has been working for months to address mental health, the formulation and implementation are under the procedure. In such times, to meet the immediate needs, the National Mental Health Programme should deal with the burden of the crisis, and take charge for forming rapid effective strategies. 

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Tags: #BreakTheStigma #MentalHealthMatters #MentalHealthAwareness


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