Students' well-being Knockdown in Lockdown
Have you ever experienced a feeling when a villain role in a movie is stronger than expected and you wait till climax just to see him or her losing but it leaves you devastated when they win over? Now this was just an imagination turned out to be real for the whole world. The coronavirus pandemic pompous the whole world in millions of ways anyone could have possibly imagined and it’s been a long silent war costing us lives, resources, health and brining the worse economic times altogether. Due to uncertain lockdown some people have lost jobs, getting cut in salaries, had to shut down the business due to scarcity of resources, shutdown of schools and offices brought everyone at home on same platform where student and parents had to share internet resources or devices to connect with work and education on same time respectively.It is crystal clear that the pandemic has brought the financial threat to families where the worrying of not able to manage the household budgets, or to pay the fees of a child can be predicted as a common stressor which can impact life satisfaction by forcing it to touch the downfall and leading people to the bubble of unhappiness. With the unfolding of drastic changes and issues caused by pandemic, not the just the economic conditions is the primary concern but the well-being of nation in many ways especially our future generation in a learning phase has been smacked really hard by it. So, overall starting from economic factors to education or to socio emotional dimension and so on, each sector where our lives are established has been drowned or drowning slowly. This pandemic has created a nuisance on everyday basis which used to occur sometimes before this. Like a tornado, negative thoughts filled with fear about death or losing loved ones and uncertainty of future have made people intolerant for same directly leading people to mental health problems (satici et.al, 2020). Indeed problems surely have multiplied in every sector with the spreading of virus especially when it comes to education sector. The quality of education has been degraded due to the connectivity issues or digitization along with the major issue that is well-being of students which has been depreciating due to conditions and stressors related to pandemic and transitions in educational sectors that makes whole situation even worse than it is already. When any global threat occurs it hits the mental health of nation which makes things worse and out of control. Well-being is an important aspect to consider in order to make world a better place to live. Citizens of the country are their assets and without their healthy functioning, no country can blossom.
In simple terms, well-being refers to an individual state of being healthy, happy or satisfied with life. An unhappy citizen cannot bring the innovation, solutions or the resources then how unhappiness can help to deal with pandemic? How feeling uncertain about future or worrying about resources in a time of crisis can keep someone’s well-being intact? No one was prepared for such scenario and hence changing from the offline mode to online mode of teaching or learning was quite a task which required planning. Though many schools have successfully shifted their platform to online mode but failed to equip themselves with the understanding of same. Replicating of the offline classes in online mode is the worst nightmare for students in terms of increasing screen time and infinite homework load.
A recent study investigated the adverse effects of a pandemic or lockdown on Indian students claim that changes in daily routine leads to the subtraction of health, well-being and quality sleep whereas the addition of negative emotions like anxiety, isolation, worry and immoderate screen time has compromised students’ well-being (Majumdar, et. al., 2020).
Every crisis comes with a cost but are we ready to lose our students’ mental, physical and social well-being for it is the question of an hour. The increased screen time, no physical activity, restricted social boundaries and uncertainty of the future forcing students to the pitfall of mental health issues and decreasing their quality of life.
The real concern is not regarding the transition to offline mode, but failure to understand the importance of planning and to the very core fact that the focus should not be on the completion of academic courses but also to enhance students well-being and prepare them to deal with this pandemic in more optimist way. The planning of online classes needs to consider the situational demands and severity. This is the time not to be with rigid boundaries like asking for irrelevant money in form of fees, forcing people to buy devices for exams or conducting all the activities which were supposed to occur in normal time. All these factors are not making learning fun or easy but rather creating a reality more unbearable than it is already. It is important to consider that families are dealing with a big hit on their financial tanks. For example, one family who have three school going children at home studying in same school cannot arrange three different devices at once. Or another example could be students coming from lower communities cannot afford an unlimited internet connection or laptop. Those who managed to arrange both resources are not using them wisely, their screen exposure has increased; qualitative study touched a pitfall and the students lost their time schedule capsules costing their physical health as well. Learning is indeed an important aspect and such a transition was required, but what about the changes in the techniques of teaching and assessments? Schools are trying to keep their traditional methods intact which are causing many issues that are not being addressed. The need of the hour requires an environment filled with more empathy and compassion towards each other and a strategic plan to enhance learning and knowledge by keeping our students’ well-being intact. We cannot control what is inevitable but we can plan how to deal without compromising self and other’s mental peace. There is no question indeed that closing of schools was taken as a preventive measure to ensure the safety of students but it has a cost charging short term or long term mental health consequences.
According to the recent study, restrictions on movement and stay at home phase hit a rise in many other issues among school students like fear, panic and anxiety attacks, domestic violence, depression and substance use. (Radwan et. al.,2020).
Undoubtedly the outbreak of unknown deadly virus astonished millions and then massive lockdown has accelerated many problems which knocked down students causing their mental health to deteriorate. A problem causing downfall in mental, physical and emotional well-being altogether requires some powerful interventions. In order to enhance students well-being, major changes and interventions are needed in minimizing the mental health consequences such as working on ways to improve students interaction to overcome loneliness, arranging well-being classes online to create awareness in students on major mental health issues or also to give them a platform with unconditional positive regard where they can express their emotions freely, arrange online meditation or yoga classes to enhance their mental peace and physical well-being, making academic classes fun by adopting different online tools to promote engagement in learning, conduct one doubt class or free class at least once in a week in all the subjects to give students enough time to process the information they have been studying, the breaks in middle of classes should be at least 10-15 minutes, encourage students to take care of their eye health by engaging them to do some basic eye exercises at the beginning and end of the class, engage in taking project and assignment based assessments rather than the traditional way of assessment to have quality learning and knowledge and make students learn how to use technology without getting exposed to its negative consequences. Some of these measures will not just help removing emotional and mental health barriers but also prepare students to deal with the “new normal” by their enhanced skill sets and efficiency. In addition, the communities can also play a vital role to improve some issues like violence on children. In so many cases, it has been noticed that the environmental factors like neighbours or the community a victim lives in are so negligent that it gets ignored or go unnoticed. But as these conditions are different now and people are home more than ever, we all can engage ourselves to be more involved in our surroundings by maintaining social distancing norms and we can ensure the healthy functioning community outreach for people in need. At the end, it is not an individual war but rather a global crisis, which makes feeling of nervous and anxiety pretty normal. But this is the time where we have to take the charge of our lives and be more attentive, cautious and empathetic towards ourselves and others. As rightly quoted by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Indian Prime Minister,
When crises and deadlocks occur they have at least this advantage that they force us to think
Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru
So, take some time and think how we can use this time to get back our students well-being levels to the positive.