The post-pandemic period is showing a worrying trend of the vulnerable mental condition of Bangladesh’s future generation with 75.85% of university-level students facing different mental health issues in the country, according to a survey.
Due to post-Covid-19 induced academic pressures, students are now facing session jams due to lengthy academic class suspension, apathy towards studying, frustration due to academic results, and failure in understanding lectures, the survey said.
The survey titled “The Impact of Academic Pressure on Mental Health and the Suicidal Propensity of University Students” was published by youth-based social organization Aachol Foundation during a virtual press conference on Saturday morning.
The foundation interviewed 1,640 students from 38 public universities, 47 private universities, and from madrasa and colleges under National University including 43.9% male and 56.1% female students.
Out of the students interviewed, 46.65% of the students said they have given up on their academic careers in the post-pandemic era and are affected by emotional tiredness due to increased study pressure and the obligation to finish the syllabus swiftly while 10.30% said they are facing difficulties in coping up with the frequent exams.
Meantime, the foundation also revealed that an average of 45 students committed suicide in the first nine months of this year.
Out of the total number of students who committed suicide, highest 219 school students took their lives followed by 57 university students, 84 college students, and 44 madrasa students, it said. 242 of them were female students and 162 of them male students.
Technology dependency and expectations from parents take a heavy toll
Around 70.73% of the students said addiction to reliance on digital devices is causing different mental health issues including 71.71% facing negative consequences in academic life due to excessive sleeping or insomnia.
Additionally, 80.8% of students’ academic lives are significantly impacted by a variety of habits and behavioural shifts, including mild melancholy and unusual exhaustion.
Around 47.50% of students said they are facing changes in their personalities including many becoming introvert while 20.73% of the students are facing difficulty in understanding lectures due to the short time for completing long courses.
Around 55.43% of the students pointed out unnecessary pressures in the form of different expectations from the parents as a major reason behind mental health issues.
Different reasons including high pressure to complete lessons in the shortest period of time due to the Covid-19 pandemic created additional pressures in academic life of 77.01% of the students.
Following a long suspension of classes and changes in academic structure, 73.84% of the students said they lost confidence while 76.6% of the students, mostly female students, said they are facing anxiety and uncertainty due to their future career prospects.
Bad academic results have been identified as a risk factor for 77.68% of student’s mental health, while 63.41% of students said they are facing tensions due to session jams.
Around 74.51% of students said they do not get teachers to share their feeling or psychological problems while 48.84% of students said they get no one to share when they feel upset.
Out of 1,640 students interviewed, 40 or 2.44% of them said they attempted suicide but failed.
Speaking at the event, Dr Mohammad Mahmudur Rahman, former professor of the Department of Clinical Psychology at University of Dhaka said the government should set up a national cell to determine the impact on Covid-19 induced mental health impact on students and find out who needs support and what type of support at the universities and how to provide them.
Md Shahnawaz Khan Chandan, assistant professor at Institute of Education and Research under Jagannath University, said the survey is an indication of lack of awareness and scarcity of access to mental health treatment and services.
This survey highlighted the need for overhauling the education system including the evaluation system, he said.
“Mental health always remains ignored, with taboos affecting the factors regularly. The universities do have medical centres, but those are under-equipped and under-resourced. The students facing mental health problems cannot seek services, and this is only worsening the problems,” he said identifying lack of counselling, lack of expert counsellors, and an exam-based evaluation system as reasons for creating unnecessary pressure on students.
Dr Abdul Wohab, an assistant professor at department of political science and sociology at North South University, while reading out the statement, said academic pressure of completing the syllabus in the shortest period of time, dependency on technology or device, the financial crisis of the families, lack of employment opportunity due to Covid-19, and lack of sharing opportunities by people facing mental health problems are core reasons behind the situation.
He stressed on the need for appointment of psychologists on an urgent basis at universities and organizing training for teachers on mental health services.
Wohab recommended introduction of a job market-oriented syllabus and turning education cheerful and realistic for students along with offering part-time on-campus jobs and creating normal and informal relationships between teachers and students as proposals to solve the problem.