The mental health status of the students especially at the country's universities has taken a turn for the worse with 84.6 per cent suffering from mental depression during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey.
It showed that mental healthcare was largely ignored among the students due to an inadequate number of mental health professionals in Bangladesh. Uncertain future, loneliness, fear of death because of Covid-19, session jam, unwanted pressure for marriage were also blamed for such a situation, it added.
Aachol Foundation conducted the survey on 2,552 students and released the findings on Saturday, marking the World Mental Health Day that falls on October 10.
According to the survey, 75.5 per cent of university students lost their interest in studies during the Covid-19 pandemic while only 17.7 per cent students said they were satisfied with online classes. Besides, 77 per cent of university students said they could not sleep in time.
Of the surveyed students, 83.3 per cent were between the age group of 18 to 23 years while 15.8 per cent the age group of 24 to 28 years.
The initiation of online classes had led to a considerable increase in screen time where the students had to sit in front of a computer or laptop most of the time. It also found that 98.3 per cent of the students faced different problems such as decreased memory power, headache, dripping eyes, lack of concentration and sleep.
Aachol Foundation's founder president Tansen Rose told the FE that they had recently conducted another study where they found that many university students were facing mental problems with many of them showing suicidal tendency.
"We carried out the study to know and understand the mental health condition of the students. Mental health is still ignored among the students."
Depon Sarkar, a psychologist, said the closure of educational institutions in the country has resulted in decreased communication with friends. "Regular study along with career and personal life was affected seriously, thus resulting in the consequence of their mental sufferings," he added.
He also said the students should get counselling regularly from mental health specialists.
Jobeda Khatun, assistant professor and chairman of Clinical Psychology Department at Dhaka University, told the FE that a large number of students suffer from mental depression mainly due to the changing lifestyle during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"The changing sleeping schedule is another big cause of mental depression among the students. It affects both physical and mental health," she mentioned.
"Our department has already provided mental healthcare support to over 900 people including students through online campaigns. Many health service seekers are still on the waiting list. It means a growing number of people are facing mental health issues during the pandemic."
She added: "Sharing mental problems or seeking mental healthcare still remains a stigma in our society. We need to address the issue and launch an awareness campaign, involving our community leaders at grassroots level."
Jobeda Khatun also said there are some 500 psychiatrists and psychologists. "The number of psychiatrists and psychologists is inadequate comparing to the demand of such a large population in Bangladesh."
She said, "We have to provide the students with mental health education from primary schooling aiming to bring about a sustainable change."
The government should provide registration to all valid psychologists in the country in order to avoid 'fake' treatment, she suggested.