Mental health for students

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - October 17, 2020 - 12:00am

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown is an unprecedented scenario in modern times. It is impossible to quantify the full effect the situation has on children and young people's mental health and well-being.

For teachers, parents, or family members, the first few weeks since the opening of classes have been very difficult. Indeed, as we face new experiences, there are obstacles. There are many hows and whys, and we still have to go through the baptism of fire, even though we have ready answers to a few questions. We don't really know what's going to happen to the many intricacies and complexities we haven't come across in the past. So much more when things are mounting and compounding, we feel that we are on the brink of exploding, on the verge of drowning.

This is exactly what happened to some recorded cases of students who are depressed and some have even committed suicide because of the mounting heavy loads. They cried out for the numerous learning tasks. This is also rooted in the erratic internet access; they cannot participate well in their virtual classes. As in the case of my student who has yet to move to a location where she can communicate from the mountains. And during this period, the crisis worsens. And the situation is worsened during heavy rainy days. There are even times when in the midst of our discussion, I saw some of them struggling with thunder and lightning, literally. Six of my students were advised to take a leave of absence because of their mental and emotional condition, and this breaks my heart.

There are still some students who can have internet access if they go to high places where there are hotspots so that they can attend their classes. A case in which they are all the more vulnerable to risks. When is this situation going to change? Can this last until the semester or the end of the school year? Nobody knows.

The condition shown above creates a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness for a faint-hearted person. And this is deeply embedded in a variety of variables. One is the inability of parents, due to their economic condition, to provide the requisite technology or direction. Another is the lack of funding and prioritization by the government. Although there are local government units that have been pouring out their support to schools in their jurisdiction but still a bigger portion of the population remains unreached and disadvantaged.

Back to our learners, we need to improve their well-being more than ever. Their young minds continue to be vulnerable to pressures. There are also those who would automatically think of giving up even for a small challenge as if it were impossible for them to consider solutions or feasible means to solve problems.

We let them feel that they have friends, relatives, families whom they can lean on during difficulties. Such support group is crucial for coping in this trying time. Our mere presence, by listening to them, means so much to them. Parents, as original co-regulators, the first teachers of how to manage emotions by setting a positive tone their children will follow. Constantly reminding them that this is just a phase or stage that will soon pass.

It's definitely normal for students to be anxious about their schooling even though it's virtual. Being prepared and educated, however, helps decrease tension and anxiety. Most importantly, keep the lines of communications with them open.


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