85% students suffered from depression during the Covid-19 pandemic

In the wake of a rising number of suicides in the country, the non-profit social organization Aachol Foundation conducted a survey to assess the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the mental health of university students. The survey was conducted in the period September 12-26.

The findings of the survey were disclosed during a virtual press conference on Saturday.

The study found that a staggering 84.6% of the students had suffered from mental health issues during the pandemic, with rural areas (86.2%) slightly worse affected than urban areas (84%). A total of 2,552 students from universities around the country participated in the research.

As many as 83.3% of the participants were aged 18-23 years old, while 15.8% were aged 24-28 and 0.9% were aged over 28.

The highest number, 90.2%, of students reported mental health issues in Sylhet.

Closure led to loss of interest in studies

The 18-month-long closure of educational institutions due to the Covid-19 pandemic led to up to 75.5% of university students losing interest in studies. This includes 86.8% of public university students and 80.6% of private university students, the survey found.

More women (87.44%) were affected by mental health issues than men (80.38%), likely because women had fewer opportunities to go outdoors, it added. 

Reasons for mental instability cited by the participants include feelings of uncertainty and loneliness, fear of Covid-19, family quarrels, pressure from the family to marry, and feelings of inferiority.

The survey also found that 77% of students did not get enough sleep.

Tansen Rose, founder president of Aachol Foundation, said: “The problem is that [mental health issues] are difficult to solve unilaterally. We find that depression is more prevalent among students who do not sleep well. People who use electronic devices excessively have a higher rate of depression. We need to be personally aware of getting enough sleep, proper electronic device use, and extra thinking about anything.” 

He added that society also had a responsibility to maintain the mental health of future generations. 

“It is important for everyone to come forward to prevent unwanted social pressure on students. It is also necessary to be careful in degrading someone, disregarding them, comparing them with others,” he said.

Psychologist Dipan Chandra Sarkar said students should increase interaction with friends and acquaintances and move forward with a focus on their own life goals. He also urged students to seek the help of psychologists and take regular counseling.

The foundation also presented a six-point proposal toward addressing mental health issues, with the recommendations including a national hotline service, app-based facilities for mental health issues, the appointment of psychologists at every educational institute, and increasing efficiency training for students. 

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