The Effects of COVID-19 on The Mental Health of Youth

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Boonyavee Wongwisetsuk, a second year medical student in Thailand trying to navigate her way through the stress of medical school and the pandemic. She is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

The pandemic affects all people, arguably some more than others however I think that It is inappropriate to compare the struggles of different people. All of us struggle, maybe not always in the same way. For us young people, these are supposed to be the best years of our lives. We should be enjoying ourselves, doing the things we wanted to do and making memories. The loss of such a precious time in our lives would in no doubt affect our mental well being. The loneliness, boredom and lack of sense of direction could do a number on a youth’s livelihood. But this is just the tip of the iceberg.

We have a lot to worry about. As someone who is prone to being anxious, I find that the isolation of the quarantine amplified all my stresses and worries. As a medical student, I have enough to agonize over whether it is my study, the competitive environment where you feel like everyone is better than you, the expectations from those around you to always succeed and other worries such as the fear of catching the virus, financial struggles and family issues. Being stuck at home left me nothing much to do but to obsess over every problem in my life which I have no control over. And the fact that I can’t consult with my friends about this as usual makes me feel even more alone and hopeless. I’m sure a lot of people must feel the same way. With the shift to online learning, it is even more difficult to understand the content and find the motivation to learn. On top of this, the virus single-handedly destroyed our economy, forcing businesses to close down, which greatly affects the financial stability of many households, in worst cases the basic needs of a young adult may be threatened. This alone can already cause a lot of anxiety but some may also have family issues which may derive from the stress of losing income and change in lifestyle. Not to mention that all of us constantly live in fear of catching a potentially deadly virus.

And for a lot of us, our everyday life is reduced to just a cycle of eating, working and sleeping. It is not normal to live in a repetitive loop like this, no wonder we are distressed and unmotivated. In fact, data from 2019 to 2020 showed that there has been a tremendous increase in psychological conditions such as generalized anxiety, major depression, self-harm, adjustment disorder and more[1]. Speaking from my own experience, I feel extremely trapped mentally during the quarantine. I had nothing to look forward to and was constantly miserable. I didn’t want to do anything.

After a while I learn to cope using hobbies, staying in touch with friends and finding new purposes. My final message is that it is okay to feel how you feel. Embrace it and know that you are not alone.

1. The Pandemic Is Having a Severe Impact on Kids’ Mental Health. Time. Published 2021. Accessed June 25, 2021.

About the author

Prin is a second year medical student in Thailand trying to navigate her way through the stress of medical school and the pandemic. Although she doesn’t talk much about it she is struggling a lot with overthinking, obsessive thoughts and stress during quarantine thus when she discovered the european sting articles through IFMSA, she decided to share her perspectives on the impact of the pandemic on her mental health. She hopes the readers could relate to her article and somehow find a sense of comradery in her article.

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