Hyderabad: Cancellation of examinations and uncertainty of physical teaching for the next academic year are pushing bright students into depression and anxiety, according to mental health experts. They are not able to cope with the situation as they find that their hard work is not recognised due to uncertainty over exams, they opined.
With schools and junior colleges already stressing on internal assessments, students are worried if next year also will see the same cycle. And for the same reasons, bright students from class VIII to class XII are getting overtly anxious. Some of them are reportedly on the verge of a breakdown at home and their worried parents are said to be in a state of helplessness.
Most of the students from the middle and the lower middle classes are studying online while the rest of their family members are around. They find it hard to concentrate on studies as the houses are in a mess with offices, kitchen and house works all going on at the same time.
Dr Charan Tej, psychiatrist at the Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) Hospital says, "We are getting distress calls from students as they are not able to continue in this manner. Those from class 9th to 12th find the situation difficult to handle. They cannot talk to their teachers directly, clear doubts, ask questions and are also unable to get direct feedback on their performances. In a classroom, there is motivation for bright students as they answer first, get appreciation from their teachers and shine in the class. This motivation is completely missing in online classes which is causing anxiety and depression."
This is being noted mostly in students who are preparing for competitive exams like National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and Joint Entrance Exams.
Psychiatrists and psychologists who are into online counselling say they are seeing good, normal students during the pandemic stressed due to external factors. Seventy percent of them require counselling and cognitive therapy to divert their minds from negative thinking and to cope with the present situation. There are 30 percent of them who require medical attention as they have an underlying history of mental illness in the family.
Dr I. Bharat Reddy, senior consultant psychiatrist at Apollo Hospitals, says, "The uncertainty about academic programmes is causing good students to dread another year of online studies. It is affecting their interest in studies as they have been groomed for competitive exams right from the beginning. But in the last two years, the academic schedule is such that students are not getting a chance to compete and excel."
With physical and social distance norms are in place, psychological makeovers of support, togetherness and being face to face are missing, leading to restlessness. This is one of the reasons that many students dislike online classes and this category includes bright and also not-so-bright students.
Experts state that schools must go slow on engaging students for long hours as online fatigue has set in. Students have to be divided into smaller classrooms where teachers can interact with good and not-so-good in different sessions.
It is also important that there are better assessments to keep them engaged and challenge them like it is in a classroom. Parents have to support them in terms of space, giving an area where they can concentrate and also look at the brighter picture of the possibility of going back to normal living after vaccination. Improving coping mechanisms by looking at the brighter picture will help them as they have a long way ahead, say the experts.