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By Shannae Trotz
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it has forced us to accept a new normal. The air that we all so love and need, carries a virus that has the potential to erase an entire population. Outside became illegal to an extent, face masks have become an integral trend. Schools and colleges have been forced to close their doors. Our new hang out spots? Our homes. Sporting activities no longer leisure. The Coronavirus brought fear upon each generation. For some, we are confined to the walls of our homes and following the guidelines of our legal institutions. But for others, there is a sort of recklessness that goes with their behaviour.
Now that I have given you a short summary of COVID and Quarantine, I’ll explain to you, how the pandemic impacted some of the existing problems our youths face. Young people have their entire lives ahead of them, we can all agree on that. We are often told we are the “future leaders of our country” but how can we be so, if we are not given job opportunities, quality education and a healthy environment to grow? Though we’re all from the same soil, our experiences and challenges differ. Often times our environment and personal life force us down roads we never intended to go. We youths face numerous challenges in our everyday life, most of them similar but our coping mechanism varies. Each stage, new troubles. While faced with these troubles, some handle them better than others, while some hide them better than others.
I have seen news reports, both locally and internationally, highlighting how the pandemic has affected young people’s mental health and academic performances and what parents can do to help them cope, while protecting them from this deadly virus. Though I believe the advice is integral it should also be known that the beginning of our mental health and academic problems stemmed way before COVID introduced itself to us. Learning is not as easy as it may seem, 700 students can attend one school, learning from the same criteria, taught by the same teachers all through the terms, but their grades will still differ. It’s easy to justify the situation by saying “studying would increase their chances of having a high grade”, but what we need to understand is that these students are human beings and not robots, they have emotions, experiences, challenges and traumas that can affect their ability to study, learn and remember information taught to them, but why is this so? Mental Health Issues is a leading factor.
Depression is a common mental health issue among our youths. Our environment, peers, family and academic life affect us in many ways. Having depression may lead to memory loss, difficulty focusing and can even cause a break down if the studies become too overwhelming with an already overactive mind. Now with the intervention of a pandemic, which caused learning institutions to close and face to face interactions to cease more pressure is placed on the learning ability of students. In class learning was already a challenge by itself, now with virtual teaching we are forced to adapt to a new method of learning, not forgetting those who may be unable to attend these classes due to lack of internet access and an electronic device. (Shannae Trotz is a 19-year-old third year International Relations student at the University of Guyana.)